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U.S.A. Swimming Accused Of Reports Of Sexual Abuse: Steps Organizations Can Take

Leaders of Team USA allegedly ignored reports of hundreds of children being sexually abused for decades. The organization was also allegedly aware of statutory rape cases on national team trips to major international competitions.

According to reports, the governing body knew about the widespread sexual abuse, but failed to take the warnings seriously and therefore did not stop the abuse.

Although USA swimming president Ron Van Pool addressed the issue in 2005, stating that the organization was "frightfully behind the curve" in terms of dealing with abuse cases, nothing was done.

Today, at least 252 coaches and officials at USA Swimming (USAS) have been arrested, charged, or disciplined by USAS for sexual abuse against minors. Investigators found that those arrested have a total of nearly 600 victims.

USA Swimming has also been accused of paying $77,627 to lobbyists to try to prevent legislation in California which would have made it easier for sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers and the organizations for which they worked.

Former world-record holder and Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors is one of the athletes who came forward to accuse a Team USA swimming coach of abusing her. According to the former Olympian, "Sean Hutchison sexually abused her and took naked photos over her when she was 17." Kukors also stated that Hutchison sexually assaulted her on trips while training at Seattle area pools. Kukors, now 28, told investigators that Hutchison started grooming her when she was only 13 and started sexually abusing her when she was 16. Hutchison was an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He resigned in 2010 amid speculation that he was sexually involved with a swimmer. Hannah Parry "Leaders of USA swimming ignored reports of Hundreds of children being sexually abused for decades, shocking report claims" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5411405/Leaders-USA-swimming-ignored-sex-abuse-reports.html (Feb. 20, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

After several athletes reported allegations of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, athletes of USA Swimming are now coming forward with sexual abuse allegations. We have written about Larry Nassar’s crimes. Log on to read:

Most coaches are dedicated to helping young athletes develop their skills and achieve their dreams. Recent cases, however, have shown that there are those (coaches and executives) involved in these organizations who have taken advantage of their positions of trust and respect to commit sex crimes against young athletes who trust them.

Organizations involved with children should always look after their safety. What can organizations do to help prevent child sexual abuse from taking place?

  • Perform due diligence and background checks on job applicants before deciding to hire.
  • Check references. Interview those who actually worked with, or who supervised, the applicant.
  • Check the validity of all statements made on an application for employment or résumé.
  • Explain your child sexual abuse prevention policy to all job applicants. Stress the seriousness with which your organization approaches the issue. Clearly state that sexual abuse will not be tolerated and will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law. Perhaps this will have the effect of discouraging a would-be predator from pursuing the job.
  • Children participating in athletics should always be accompanied by an adult chaperone during physical exams and other physician visits.
  • Create a safe environment for children to come and talk to other members of the organization if they feel uncomfortable with an adult.
  • Let children know that it is okay to say "no" to an adult who is making them uncomfortable.
  • Always immediately report any suspicion of child sexual abuse to law enforcement.
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