- USA Swimming has failed to properly address accusations of sexual abuse over several decades, according to a report from The Southern California News Group.
- The report found that USA Swimming officials were aware of at least 252 coaches and officials who were accused, arrested, or prosecuted for sex crimes, with over 500 alleged victims under the age of 18.
- According to the report, USA Swimming has a list of “flagged” coaches and officials who were arrested or accused by law enforcement of sex crimes.
- Only six of 32 “flagged” members were subsequently barred by the organization.
- The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is currently investigating organized sports, including USA Swimming, for sexual abuse matters.
A bombshell report from The Southern California News Group found that USA Swimming failed to properly address accusations of sexual abuse across several decades.
The report found that “USA Swimming repeatedly missed opportunities to overhaul a culture within American swimming where the sexual abuse of underage swimmers by their coaches and others in positions of power within the sport was commonplace and even accepted by top officials and coaches.”
The findings are based on documents and interviews with sexual abuse survivors, USA Swimming officials, safe sport advocates, and USA Swimming’s “leading financial benefactors.”
According to the report, USA Swimming officials were aware of sexually predatory coaches and declined to pursue action against them, even when faced with direct complaints. One coach was reportedly allowed access to USA Swimming facilities and events despite some officials being told that the coach had sexually abused a 12-year-old female swimmer.
The report also found that since July 1997, when Chuck Wielgus took over as executive director, at least 252 coaches and officials have been arrested, prosecuted, or punished by USA Swimming for sexual abuse or misconduct with underage swimmers. Those coaches and officials have at least 590 alleged victims, according to the report.
According to the report, the organization also had a list of “flagged” coaches and officials who had been arrested or accused of sex crimes, with only six of 32 receiving bans.
The report says swimming is a “sport where high profile coaches having sex with teenage swimmers was common knowledge, even accepted.”
The report found that USA Swimming paid over $77,000 to a lobbying firm to lobby against legislation in California that would have made it easier for sexual abuse victims to sue their abusers. USAS has also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to crisis PR brands, according to the report.
The findings mirror the ongoing situation in USA Gymnastics, where mishandling of sexual abuse allegations allowed former team doctor Larry Nassar to prey on hundreds of alleged victims. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexual assault possession of child pornography in January.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Education investigated USAS in 2014 and found that the organization’s inaction allowed for sexual abusers to continue abusing swimmers, according to the report. Additionally, a former senior Democratic member of the committee, Rep. George Miller, asked former FBI director James Comey in 2014 to fully investigate the organization for its handling of sexual abuse allegations.
According to the report, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is currently investigating sexual abuse in organized sports, including USA Swimming.