Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another email from USA Swimming board member David C. Berkoff regarding rampant sexual abuse in our sport - John Leonard is mentioned!

The above s a screen shot that was sent to me 2-hours ago. It is a letter from USA Swimming board member, David C. Berkoff, to Jeff Chida sent on 7/26/2010 at 6:15 PM. Herein he states he personally knows witnesses that told him Mitch Ivey was sleeping with a specific swimmer. That Rick Curl was molesting Kelly Davies and he heard this by unnamed swimmers in Texas. That John Leonard was on a sub-committee and told Berkoff that  "... he was opposed to an all-out ban on swimmer/coach relationships because he had married one of his former swimmers. ..."

It is time for David Berkoff to resign or be voted off the board. USA Swimming has the appearance of protecting it's own at all costs and that stinks of the "Sandusky/Paterno/PennState" scandal. I see many similarities.

In no other sport would this be tolerated but not only is it tolerated, those that knew who the victims were, knew who the perpetrators are, have been granted greater visibility and responsibility within the sport.

I call for David C. Berkoff to resign. I call for John Leonard to either refute or acknowledge his statement below and for the members of USA Swimming and it's more reasonable board memebers to get rid of the people that tolerated this "dirty animal" called sex abuse that entered our house.

Herein David C. Berkoff states:

From: David C. Berkoff [mailto:dcberkoff@GARLINGTON.COM]
 Sent: 07/26/2010 6:15 PM
To: 'Jeff Chida' 
Subject: RE: Norm Havercroft

Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie. They knew about it because we (coaches and athletes) were all talking about it in late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I was told by several of Mitch Ivey’s swimmers that he was sleeping with Lisa Dorman in 1988. I heard the whole Suzette Moran story from Pablo Morales over a handful of beers and nearly threw up. I was told Rick Curl was molesting Kelly Davies for years starting when she was 12 by some of the Texas guys. That was the entire reason I formed the abuse subcommittee. I was sick and tired of this crap. No one was standing up. No one was willing to take on these perverts. 
John Leonard was on the subcommittee and told me he was opposed to an all-out ban on swimmer-coach relationships because he had married one of his former swimmers. I finally threw in the towel out of frustration because no one wanted to stand up for background checks or banning coach-swimmer relationships.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand. If Berkoff finds this situation unacceptable, and is expressing this in an email, why would you call for his resignation? Isn't he one of the few good guys?

Also, how old was John Leonard's wife when he first became involved with her. Which wife is it?

Tony Austin said...

Quickly, for I am a bit rushed: in his manifesto over at Swimming World, he mentioned a rule set or an agenda he would like to see implemented but he has done nothing to move that agenda forward.

Second, he knew about the Curl abuse and even the Mitch Ivey stuf when he was running and it took USA Swimming in 2012 to find the victim in the Curl case when he knew the name all along.

As for Mitch Ivey, I complained about Mitch Ivey to Susan Woesner, she said a witness had dies and they could not move forward but per his emails, it's my belief he could have done more to get that rat banned. Instead Mitch Ivey is showcased at the ASCA website.

Gotta go, talk soon.

David Berkoff said...

Dear Tony:

I am disappointed that you continue to post inaccurate blog comments about me without having the decency to even call me. My telephone number is listed and I am in the USAS Directory. I’m not hard to find.

As for the 2010 email you posted, this is old news. Robert Allard has been circulating that email for two years. More critically, what I wrote was true as to my recollection of 22 years ago. There were rumors. I heard them. However, I had no first-hand knowledge of whether these rumors were true. Instead, I did what I could.

22 years ago—when I was a 24 year old swimmer—I confronted a problem that I saw as unjust. I formed the first abuse subcommittee in 1991 and the committee’s work formed the basis for the Code of Conduct. I quit the Board for several reasons in 1992.

I got back into the USAS arena in 2010 (17 years later) largely because the athlete protection issue seemed to need more work. I drafted several versions of a new athlete protection policy before ever stepping onto the Board. These drafts were shared with the Board in July 2010 and 6 of the 7 concepts I proposed were adopted in substance and redrafted for consistency with the established Code of Conduct. In September 2010, I stood on the floor of the House of Delegates with other USAS members and advocated for the passage of these new rules. I advocated for mandatory reporting, a reporting hotline, defining sexual misconduct, education, and no statutes of limitation. That year USAS passed the most ground-breaking and cutting edge athlete protection policies of any NGB.
In 2011, I helped the athlete protection officer formulate the updated background check program and to cut costs as best as possible. That included dozens of conference calls during a time when my wife was hospitalized in Minnesota for a third hip replacement surgery. In 2011, I also helped advocate for the passage of USAS’s anti-bullying rules as well as some important additions to the athlete protection rules. I again advocated these changes on the House floor. I will be proposing legislation this week that will add more power to the Board of Review to rid our sport of pedophile coaches.

Furthermore, you and your readers should know that because of the amount of work I am doing for USAS, I resigned from my position as a Partner at a law firm that I had been a part of for 15 years. I did this to spend more time of USAS issues. I made a choice—continue to take on a Partnership workload at a big firm for money or leave the firm and dedicate time and energy to USAS for no pay.

In choosing the latter, I lost about $50,000 in income per year, gave up my interest in a $16 million building, lost my equity in the partnership, lost most of my clients, and had to start over on my own. Tony, this kind of decision is not easy when your wife’s health is in question and you have two kids.

However, because of this choice, I dedicate about 800 hours a year (at least) to USAS projects and tasks. I chair, help manage, or participate in 11 different committees—more than any other Vice President. I have traveled all across the country to go to meetings and conferences. I spend dozens of evenings reading USAS proposals, reports, and information. I donate time and money to the USAS Foundation. On top of it all, I miss time with my family. I do all of this because I care about USAS and want to make a difference.

Unfortunately you have interpreted my silence in the blogosphere as inaction or apathy. Far from it. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to toot my own horn, but since you have attacked my character, I am giving you the full monty. I frankly don’t have the time or inclination to get sucked into yellow journalism, rumor and speculation, or conspiracy theories, and so this is my first and last response to you. I hope you have the decency to post this reply and let your viewers judge me fairly.

I think my record of hard work speaks for itself. If I am voted off the Board, so be it.

David Berkoff
Technical Vice President, USA Swimming

Jeff Chida said...

As much as I would like to waive a magic wand and remove all predator coaches (and their Paterno-like supporters) from USA Swimming...

It is not going to happen overnight as my son and daughter told me so last evening.

It took eight years to get a local coach to leave after a few days of the ABC 20/20 and ESPN exposes.

It wasn't USA Swimming that got him to leave (sadly)... but rather the mounting pile of evidence derived from the swimming community.

One person can't do it all.

And to be fair, neither can David Berkoff by himself.

It takes ALL of us involved along with a "SANE" process to get rid of the cancer of sexual abuse as I stated earlier in a previus post.

David needs our support, not our ire.

Tony Austin said...

No Jeff, He is getting my ire. I will respond once I get some projects out of the way.

Sarah G said...

No permanent friends, no permanent enemies. It's a political concept used often by community organizers when ordinary people go up against the power structure.

It's a tough concept. I struggle with it. Some of your readers may have followed my Curb Northside blog, which I started to take a stand against my school district and accidently touched on swimming issues. I took the blog down when the superintendent announced his retirement. Many of the issues in my blog were still valid and certainly needed to be documented. But I found it a little too satisfying to have a means to bully Northside back. It seems I have the proclivity to become a cyber-bully.

My point is that sometimes, even when it's human nature to do otherwise, you need to re-evaluate.

For now, who is your friend on this issue? Who has the passion and the means to help you?

(By the way, there is a great book on Ernesto Cortez and community activism called 'Cold Anger')

Anonymous said...

Berkoff's long winded response leaves a lot to be desired as he does goes out of his way "tooting his own horn" and doesn't answer any questions. Simply put, Berkoff has failed and should resign.

1. Why has USA Swimming continually lied to the media in their responses to the Kelley Currin/Rick Curl scandal and now refuse to answer any questions?

2. Why was Rick Curl on deck at Olympic Trials?

3. As the Vice President of USA Swimming and a so-called strong advocate of child protection, why is USA Swimming continue to associate themselves with a known wife beater, womanizer, thief and liar such as John Leonard and ASCA? Berkoff stated in the email that Leonard quashed "code of conduct" legislation that he worked on in 1992 because Leonard married one of his former swimmers!

4. Now that Berkoff has left his law firm and given up his interest in the 16 million dollar building, is he taking kickbacks from the USSIC member funded offshore fund to supplement his loss of income?

5. Why did the USA Swimming board go crazy at the last meeting when a relatively new board member suggested that an independent audit be conducted. If USAS is a "family" like Berkoff suggested, why do some of the newer board members feel that the "old guard" is "filthy dirty" and feel like they are hiding things?

Bob Allard said...

David Berkoff is no better than Joe Paterno. He knew about a pedophile and did nothing about it. When he found the going tough in the early 1990's, he quit. Nice. So if you get resistance when advancing a noble cause you quit? Davis you must be so proud. For my group, we received extreme resistance with USA Swimming shamelessly spending millions of dollars on five different law firms to make us go away and we refused to give up and prevailed upon Swimming to charge their rules and that is just what they did. If David Berkoff had done the same thing in the early 1990's, an untold number of moleatations would have been avoided. To make matters worse, now he he has joined the ranks of the pedophile enablers and is defending the actions of the very people whom he so harshly criticized. Who are you David Berkoff? In my mind, I am sorry to say, you are nothing more than someone who sold out. Make up your ow mind if this is someone who you want representing your organization. David, please stop wasting our time with this nonsense and leave the fighting to those who have proven themselves. Bob Allard, Esq. LASAC

Sarah G said...

The answers to the 5 questions anonymous asked are won't come from Weilgus or any of the other career USAS employees. They might get answered from the volunteers, if at all. I'd be surprised if the volunteers have access to the financials of USSIC, let alone the profits or bonuses.

You are unlikely to be able to choose who you get answers from. You rarely find anyone in the swimming business to post with a name rather than anonymous.

So my question to Tony: If you try to make a change and fail, should you resign? To date, you and I have failed to have the impact we would like on ASCA. At what point should we give up? Have we failed? I don't think so.

An outsiders view: It would be nice if you called Berkoff. Perhaps you feel he's guilty of something more than failure to be effective, and maybe it's too personal to share. Berkoff left you an opening. I have no idea if it was sincere, but I bet you do.

Tony Austin said...

Hello All,

I have posted a sharp retort to David Berhoff's rebuttal of this post. I include deposition testimony that he gave on January 26, 2012 that aggressively refutes his criticisms. It's an official blog post now so it can be a permanent record of our back and forth.

The post is located here:


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