USA Swimming is under investigation for allegedly covering up sexual abuse by coaches.
USA Swimming Faces Federal Investigation, Civil Lawsuits For Allegedly Covering Up Sexual Abuse
USA Swimming is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for allegedly covering up sexual abuse allegations that athletes have made against coaches. The organization is also being investigated for allegedly concealing assets and engaging in an insurance scheme that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI have been presented evidence to a federal grand jury for the past year. Prosecutors are investigating to determine if swimmers and other Olympic athletes have been pressured to submit to sexual abuse by coaches and avoid reporting it in order to preserve their standing on their teams.
According to the Wall Street Journal, witnesses have told federal investigators that an extrajudicial system existed within USA Swimming, which amounts to systemic coverups of sexual abuse allegations against coaches. That system no longer exists today, as the Olympic sex abuse scandals of 2016 and 2017 have led to federal law requiring all allegations of child abuse to be immediately reported to law enforcement and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
2012 Olympian swimmer Ariana Kukors Smith filed a civil lawsuit against USA Swimming in 2018, which alleged that major officials in the organization’s governing body were aware that she was allegedly sexually abused by coach Sean Hutchison. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges, these officials collaborated in a cover-up of the abuse.
According to the lawsuit, Hutchison began grooming Smith at age 13 and started sexually abusing her at age 16. Smith says that officials were told of the abuse in 2005 and that Hutchison had engaged in sexual misconduct with other minors. However, they failed to act on this information, which allowed the abuse to continue.
Smith’s lawsuit also alleges that USA Swimming officials had a secret agreement to protect Hutchison from required background-check procedures. USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus, former vice president, and board member Murray Stevens, and former Club Development Director Pat Hogan are all named in the suit for allegedly being involved in the cover-up.