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Entries in USA Swimming (2)

Wednesday
Jul252012

USA Swimming Calls for Emergency Hearing Over Abuse, Payoff Claims

USA Swimming requested an emergency hearing on July 24, 2012 after learning that one of its coaches, Rick Curl, pictured in this undated photo, had been accused of sexual molestation. (Curl-Burke Swim Club)(WASHINGTON) -- Days before its first Olympic event, USA Swimming has requested an emergency disciplinary hearing after learning a well-known youth swim coach and current USA Swimming member, Rick Curl, had been accused of repeatedly sexually molesting a teenage swimmer and paying off her family for their silence more than 20 years ago, a USA Swimming spokesperson told ABC News.

As The Washington Post first reported, the call for the hearing came after former swimmer Kelly Currin told the newspaper that Curl had molested her on several occasions from 1983 to 1986 -- beginning when the girl was 13 years old and Curl was 33 -- and then agreed to pay her family $150,000 for emotional damages in a settlement that would also keep them from speaking publicly about the alleged wrongdoing.

"I was stifled for 23 years from saying anything because I signed a piece of paper when I was 19," Currin, now 43, told The Post. Though the alleged molestation stopped in 1986, the settlement agreement wasn't signed until 1989. "Now, I've gotten to the point in my life where I'm done being quiet about it... It was a crime, what happened."

According to court and settlement documents posted online by The Post, Curl was originally accused of four counts of battery and one count of inflicting emotional distress. The documents allege that the abuse caused Currin, who went by Kelley Davies then, to undergo years of therapy and eventually drop out of college.

The $150,000 settlement agreement notes that it does not amount to an admission of guilt on Curl's part, and Curl, now 62, declined to comment to The Post on the allegations and said he had "no idea" what USA Swimming's request for a hearing was all about. Curl did not immediately return requests for comment from ABC News.

A statement on the Curl-Burke Swim Club website said that in response to The Post's report, Curl "has decided to take a leave of absence effective immediately."

"Curl-Burke Swim Club takes very seriously the health and well-being of your children that swim for our club," the statement says. "This article is painful for our Club and Rick Curl personally."

Olsen, the USA Swimming spokesperson, told ABC News the organization had formally requested the disciplinary hearing but the legal process could take days before action is approved.

The new allegations against yet another USA Swimming coach come more than two years after an ABC News 20/20 investigation uncovered widespread sexual abuse in the program.

At the time of that report, 36 coaches across the country had been quietly banned from the organization over the previous 10 years following allegations of inappropriate sexual relations with young swimmers.

Ken Stopkotte, named Indiana High School Boys Swimming and Diving State Coach of the year for 2009, said then the problem is pervasive and has been going on his entire 27 years in coaching.

"It's something that coaches talk about all the time," Stopkotte told ABC News.

The executive director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, acknowledged the problem, but said, "It's not nearly as serious in USA Swimming as it might be in the rest of society."

"I don't want to be the one to sit here and say 36 is not too many, one is too many, but this is not just a problem that's isolated to one sport," Wielgus said in the 20/20 report.

Nine months after the ABC News report, USA Swimming instituted a new mandatory background check program for all coaches -- an initiative in which the Curl-Burke Swim Club said it participates.

Still, nearly 30 years after he allegedly began molesting a 13-year-old girl, only now is Curl stepping away from the poolside.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan212011

Investigation Prompts New USA Swimming Background Checks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- USA Swimming, the sport's national governing body, launched a new background check program this week requiring all coaches, employees, volunteers and anyone else working with swimmers to pass a criminal background check.

The move comes nine months after an ABC News investigation revealed that 36 USA Swimming coaches had been quietly banned from the organization for sexual abuse of young swimmers they coached.

USA Swimming's new background check requirement is "designed to deter individuals who should not be working with athletes from ever applying for membership," the organization said on its website. "Additionally, it serves to identify any unsuitable criminal history of those individuals who do apply for membership."

Individuals working with swimmers who have never had a background check must now do so through Acxiom Information Security Services, Inc. by Feb. 15. "This group includes the vast majority of the officials in USA Swimming," said one local swim club in Virginia on its web site, "a very large number of individuals."

The background check includes a national database search for criminal convictions, including a sexual offender search in all states and other watch lists from national and international databases. There are also additional county criminal searches in places of previous residence.

Individuals will automatically be disqualified from USA Swimming for any felony or misdemeanor involving a sexual crime. Other disqualifiers include convictions, deferred sentences or pending charges of violence, crimes involving firearms, animal abuse, drug use or possession, and child endangerment, neglect or abuse.

The background check is valid for two years and is repeated monthly.

The ABC News investigation revealed that San Jose swimming coach Andy King had received a clean bill of health in 2008 from USA Swimming's existing background check program, even though he abused more than a dozen teen female victims over three decades up and down the West Coast. Less than one year after being approved again by USA Swimming, King was abusing a 12-year-old girl in a shed during swim practices.

The report led the U.S. Olympic Committee to announce it would centralize and standardize background check programs across all 32 Olympic sports, affecting approximately one million athletes.

Two days after the story aired, USA Swimming apologized in a letter to its hundreds of thousands of swimmers, parents and coaches across the country and pledged to implement child protection safeguards.

Since the investigation, more victims have come forward to tell their stories. At least two additional USA Swimming coaches have pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct charges with young swimmers and more are under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio