America's 400,000 club swimmers and their families should join me in being grateful for a resource like MomsTEAM to help spread the word about the deepening government investigations of the cover-up of widespread and credible allegations of coach sexual abuse in USA Swimming. Congressman George Miller of California, ranking minority member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is on the case; albeit with lower profiles, so are two California offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This is a chilling tale the mainstream media doesn't want to touch with the proverbial kickboard. In my view, they set the bar too high; only willing to report those isolated cases in which convicted predators are led off to jail in handcuffs. Exhibit A in this Rogues gallery is Rick Curl, the Washington, D.C., area coach who serially molested his swimmer Kelley Davies in the 1980s and is now serving a seven-year sentence  in a Maryland prison. It was in the post-trial public statements of Curl's victim, now named Kelley Currin, that we learned of allegations that top swimming officials engaged in a quarter-century cover-up of Curl's crimes. Currin's call for Congressional intervention was endorsed by The Washington Post in an editorial and is being pursued by Congressman Miller.
Capitol Hill sources confirm that Miller's queries are proceeding vigorously -- this despite California Governor Jerry Brown's unfortunate decision last week to veto a bill that would have loosened the state statute of limitations on civil lawsuits by abuse victims. USA Swimming's $200,000 lobbying and PR campaign, in alignment with the Catholic Church, "turned out to be money well spent," Sports Illustrated's Kelli Anderson writes in this week's issue.
Even though they will no longer be litigated in California, ongoing federal government investigations of allegations of our Olympic Committee-sanctioned national governing body's generation-long culture of sexual abuse and cover-up could be blown sky-high by the case of Everett Uchiyama, the national team director who was allowed to secretly resign in 2006. In return, USA Swimming promised not to "move forward with further investigation" of a Southern California woman's allegations that he had molested her, starting at age 14, while she swam for his club there.
If what happened next doesn't constitute a cover-up, then in my view nothing does. Swimming's chief executive not only didn't alert the community of swimmers, coaches and families as to why Uchiyama abruptly departed, Chuck Wielgus didn't even tell his own board of directors.
Late that year, Uchiyama (whose wife Helen continues to work at USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado Springs in a mid-level job) applied for a position as a "desk attendant" with the Country Club of Colorado, six miles down the road. Rose Snyder, then the country club's aquatics director, confirms that Pat Hogan, USA Swimming's managing director of club development, gave Uchiyama a glowing recommendation, calling him a "great people person."
Soon, Snyder left the country club and Uchiyama replaced her as aquatics director. Though under a lifetime ban from USA Swimming (a fact not widely known until the organization started publishing its list following 2010 investigations by ABC's 20/20 and ESPN's Outside the Lines), Uchiyama had access to swimmers of all ages at the Country Club of Colorado -- and was even bestowed an American Swimming Coaches Association swim school franchise.
Uchiyama's tenure at the club ended with post-20/20 media reports in May 2010. During his three years there, USA Swimming board of directors minutes show that they met three times (in January 2007, January 2010 and May 2010) at the country club's affiliated Cheyenne Mountain Resort, where the aquatics center is located. Board sources say the mountain resort business center's conference room literally overlooks the pool over which disgraced coach Uchiyama presided.
My website, ConcussionInc.net, has published complete lists of the attendees of these meetings. Let's hope Congressman Miller's investigators talk to all of them.
As public awareness grows of institutional competitive swimming's apparent corruption and neglect of the physical and emotional safety of youth athletes, there will be a deeper understanding of the themes emphasized by Katherine Starr of Safe4Athletes  in her recent MomsTeam blog . Sexual abuse in sports -- especially those with adolescence-peaking talent, such as swimming -- is not the same societal problem as pedophilia more generally. That's because, as Starr correctly points out, there's a unique power relationship between coaches and girls and young women of a certain age. As a nation of sports parents, we need to wrap our minds around and understand that nuance.
In the meantime, responsible adults at the highest levels of our quasi-public national amateur sports system must be held accountable for hundreds of damaged lives. Some of those leaders belong in jail.
Posted October 17, 2013