USA Swimming Director Offers no Apologies to Teen Victims of Sexual Predator Coaches
April 10, 2010
(ChattahBox)—ABC News has a disturbing story of rampant sexual abuse of teens by USA swim coaches. The sexual molestation problem has been a not so hidden secret for years. USA Swimming, the governing body for the U.S. Olympic team, has banned 36 coaches for life for committing acts of sexual misconduct against their teen athletes. But teen athletes and their families say USA Swimming is not doing enough to keep sexual predators out of the sport. And in an unapologetic attack mode reminiscent of the Vatican’s recent handling of the sexual abuse of children by priests scandal, Chuck Wielgus USA Swimming executive director, doesn’t believe he owes the dozens of teen victims an apology. Said Wielgus to ABC’s Brian Ross on 20/20, “You feel I need to apologize to them?”
How many more sexual predator coaches are out there? According to ABC’s investigation the 36 banned coaches could just be the tip of the iceberg. Coach Brian Hindson secretly taped swimmers taking showers in the girls locker room for 10 years, before finally being caught and sentenced to prison. How was he caught? A woman who purchased his used computer on eBay discovered a video of naked teens showering in the locker room. After she alerted authorities, a search conducted of Hindson’s home turned up additional secret locker room tapes and child pornography.
“This had gone on for nearly 10 years, without any detection whatsoever,” Lt. Don Whitehead of the Kokomo, IN police department’s cyber crime unit told ABC News.” In 2008, Hindson was sentenced to 33 years in federal prison.
Hindson’s many victims are now haunted by not knowing if Hindson shared the secret shower footage with other pedophiles.
And there is the disturbing case of swimming coach Andy King, 62, described by the prosecutor as a “monster.” King was finally charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
According to ABC’s investigation:
“He was a monster,” said Santa Clara County prosecutor Ray Mendoza. “He had almost every conceivable sex act,” he said. “Mendoza said King would move out of town once parents or police began asking questions and was stopped only after a 14-year old girl in San Jose complained to her youth pastor.”
However, that “monster” was, as recently as 2008, cleared by USA Swimming’s background check to coach teen girls.
Chuck Wielgus, director of USA Swimming is under fire for the organization’s poor background checks. But he dismisses claims that there is a widespread sexual molestation problem with USA swim coaches, saying the cases reflect the problems in society. “We want to have the gold standard and I think we do an awesome job,” he said.
And Wielgus deflected the blame to local swim clubs that he says, have the ultimate responsibility in vetting the backgrounds of USA swim coaches. He also made clear, that teen victims of predator coaches will not be receiving an apology from USA Swimming.
“I think it’s unfair for you to ask me whether individually or me as the representative of an organization to apologize…,” said Wieglus.
In response to the growing reports of sexual abuse, Wieglaus and USA Swimming president Jim Wood released an open letter on the organization’s Web site, saying the recent media reports of sexual misconduct lack “a great deal of truth.” The letter to the “swimming family” highlights the many safeguards already in place to prevent sexual abuse of teen athletes committed by a “small number of people who would act inappropriately.” And the letter acknowledges that sexual abuse “should simply never happen.”
No apology was offered to the “swimming family” for the organization’s failure to protect teen swimmers from sexual abuse, but in the wake of the media coverage of the scandal, the letter says it plans to add additional safeguards, including a renewed emphasis on reporting of incidents of sexual misconduct, which is a good thing.
See ABC for more.