Regular readers of our Abuse Prevention Blog know that we recently published a post about the three lawsuits filed by six women who claim they were sexually abused as preteens and teenagers by their swimming coaches. The suits name, among others, the sport’s governing body, U.S.A. Swimming.
Plaintiff Debra Grodensky, 51, said her “sexual abuse was 100 percent preventable.” She alleges that former coach Andrew King began abusing her when she was just 12 years old.
Plaintiff Tracy Palmero, 46, said abuse by former coach Everett Uchiyam began when she was 16.
Like gymnastics, swimming has for years been plagued by sexually abusive coaches. U.S.A. Swimming is currently under federal investigation into whether it tried to hide claims of abuse.
The New York Times reports that the investigation centers on the organization’s longtime executive director, Chuck Wiegus, who died three years ago. He has been heavily criticized for mismanaging abuse claims, though the plaintiffs in the recently filed suits say the cover-up was much bigger than one person.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said Weigus “did not act alone” in the alleged cover-up. “Not even close.”
U.S.A. Swimming issued a statement noting that it long ago banned the coaches named in the trio of suits and that it “fully support(s) survivors of sexual abuse along their healing journey.”
Grodensky said she hopes the lawsuits will force a change in U.S.A Swimming leadership and in the sport’s culture. She said a transformation is needed “so that child swimmers can thrive without abuse.”