Leadership of America’s governing body over US swimming has, for decades, condoned a culture of sexual abuse — even as scores of coaches were arrested for their fiendish acts against kids, according to a bombshell report.
The Orange County Register, citing police reports, court document and internal USA Swimming communications, showed how the governing body has done little to stop rampant sexual abuse.
These horrific acts were so widespread and well-known that in 2005, then-USA Swimming president Ron Van Pool delivered a stunning speech, accusing his own organization of being “frightfully behind the curve” in addressing abuse cases.
But in the years following Van Pool’s call to arms to fight sex abuse, nothing was done.
The association’s long-time executive director Chuck Wielgus said in depositions that he didn’t take the warnings seriously.
Wielgus died this past April from colon cancer at the age of 67. He finally wrote in 2010 that he failed to protect swimmers: “I wish my eyes had been more open to the individual stories of the horrors of sexual abuse. I wish I had known more so perhaps I could have done more.”
But even after that mea culpa, sexual abuse continued, according to the Register.
After Wielgus took over the top post in July 1997, at least 252 USA Swimming coaches and officials have been arrested or disciplined for sexual misconduct against at least 590 alleged victims.
Since 2010, USA Swimming has kept a list of “flagged” coaches and officials accused of sex crimes. But of the 32 on the flagged list, only six were banned from the sport. Some were even allowed to keep working with kids after being convicted of sex crimes.
And USA Swimming has even paid $77,627 to lobbying firms in California to fight legislation aimed at making it easier for sex-abuse victims to sue their attackers, according to the Register.
Wielgus was the “gatekeeper” to all US Swimming activities and could have put a stop to sexual abuse years ago — but didn’t, according to former Olympian Katherine Starr.
“As a result, Chuck could have been a hero and been instrumental to change the dynamic that has haunted so many,” said Starr.
“But instead he [was] a coward and single-handedly allowed sexually abusive coaching to thrive for decades in the sport, leaving a wreckage of pain that has caused great harm to many swimmers that has lasted a lifetime.”
By DAVID K. LI
Source: NY Post