At least three coaches have been arrested in as many months for alleged sexual abuse involving young swimmers.
In May, Kenneth William Fuller was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault and corruption of a minor. Fuller, 47, was head coach of the Rustin High School swim team, near Philadelphia. A female swimmer told police he offered her beer and had sex with her on multiple occasions.
In June, Noah Rucker was arrested. A woman has accused him of having sexual relations with her ten years ago when she was a 17-year-old. At that time Rucker coached the swim team at James Madison High School in Virginia. The woman was a swimmer on the team and Rucker has denied the allegations in a public statement.
Also in June, a San Mateo, Calif. high school swimming and water polo coach was arrested for sexually assaulting a female student. Joshua David Tatro, 25, faces charges including sexual assault on a minor and committing lewd acts with a minor. Allard says he is working with the alleged victim and her family to file a claim.
Unlike Tatro, both Fuller and Rucker were affiliated with USA Swimming. “Fuller was suspended June 6, pending a National Board of Review hearing,” said Jamie Fabos Olsen, USA Swimming communications director. “In the Rucker case, we were appreciative that coaches from the area notified our Athlete Protection staff immediately upon learning of the case. This is testament to our mandatory Athlete Protection training.” As of press time, an emergency hearing had also been initiated regarding Rucker.
“Regardless of current or future cases, USA Swimming is committed to continuing its Safe Sport Programming. This is and has always been our approach,” added Fabos Olsen. “In fact, in 2010, we put a Safe Sport committee in place that is specifically charged with the regular review and evaluation of our programming to ensure we keep with industry best practices. This is a permanent and ongoing committee.”
As part of its response to the sexual abuse allegations, USA Swimming also will roll out customized training for athletes this fall. However, not everyone believes the organization is fully committed to addressing the issue.
“I’m convinced that real change will not happen until the people who are in control are out of office,” said attorney Robert Allard, with Corsiglia McMahon & Allard LLP, in San Jose, Calif. “They simply haven’t done nearly enough.” Allard represents several young women who have filed lawsuits against former coaches claiming sexual abuse.