After Paterno – USA Swimming’s Child Molestation Scandal
Today, Penn State University was handed an unprecedented punishment by the NCAA for its role in the Joe Paterno – Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. This week, the Olympic Games begin in London featuring a USA Swimming team tarnished by the largest child molestation scandal in United States sports history.
With more than 50 coaches already banned for life for sexually molesting minor swimmers and many more still coaching at local swim clubs, not a single individual or board member at USA Swimming has been held accountable.
It is time for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to step in and clean house at USA Swimming by demanding the immediate resignations of its Executive Director Chuck Wielgus, his entire leadership team, and the Board of Directors. All of these individuals have played a role in covering up the molestation of young swimmers and creating a culture at USA Swimming that is far deeper than the one that plagued Penn State.
The culture that allowed USA Swimming coach Andy King to molest 14-year-old Jane Doe in San Jose is the direct result of decades of inaction by USA Swimming and goes back to the days of Mitch Ivey when he was having sexual relations with his underage swimmers in Santa Clara, California in the 1980’s.
To understand how this culture can flourish, one need only look at the individuals in charge of USA Swimming. Wielgus effectively thwarted any investigation of King by ordering that a swimmer’s complaint of sex abuse be kept “confidential” in 2002. Wielgus then attempted to deceive the American public on ESPN by stating that King was not even on USA Swimming’s “radar” until he was arrested in 2010 for child molestation. He repeated this misrepresentation under penalty of perjury in legal documents.
Perhaps the biggest insult of all to sex abuse victims is that Wielgus and USA Swimming have shown absolutely no remorse for their callous and indifferent behavior. When given the opportunity to offer an apology on ABC’s “20/20″, Wielgus appeared incredulous that the interviewer had the audacity to ask such a question and quipped,“You want me to apologize?”
USA Swimming’s leadership continues to foster a culture that blames and intimidates victims while going to great lengths to protect pedophile coaches, even it if means advancing false and misleading information. This is the same mentality that led to the Penn State tragedy, except that we are not talking about one coach going back years but dozens of coaches going back decades.
If the USOC refuses to clean house, then Congress, which created the USOC, must step in and protect our kids.
By Robert Allard
Robert Allard, law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, was the attorney for Jane Doe in her civil case against USA Swimming. Mr. Allard has been honored as California Lawyer of the Year in 2012 for his work in exposing the USA Swimming cover up and sexual molestation scandal.