A woman who was molested by her swim coach as a teen wants USA Swimming held accountable for “helping create a culture that protects predator coaches. …”
Following the May 23 sentencing of famed swim coach Rick Curl, his former student has issued a statement claiming USA Swimming executives knew Curl was a child molester, but turned a blind eye.
A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sentenced Curl to seven years in prison last month in a case that dates back to 1983, when Curl began a four-year relationship with Kelley Currin. She was 13, he was 33.
Now 43, Currin is calling for the resignation of USA Swimming’s executive director Chuck Wielgus as well as vice president David Berkoff. She also wants former national team director and Hall of Fame Coach Mark Schubert to be barred from the organization.
“Leaders are put in positions of authority to make difficult and tough decisions, especially when it comes to protecting children,” Currin stated. “Wielgus, Berkoff and Coach Schubert flunked the leadership test.”
In her statement, Currin said Schubert was her swim coach in 1989 at the University of Texas. When she told him about Curl’s abuse, “Schubert’s reaction was to remove me from all UT swimming programs.”
“I was deemed a distraction, and therefore expendable,” she stated.
There were also several other coaches in whom she confided, Currin stated; however, they took no action.
Currin didn’t publicly discuss her relationship with her former coach for 30 years, keeping her end of a $150,000 settlement agreement Curl and her family signed in 1989.
However, in spring 2011 she pursued a case against Curl, hiring an attorney and presenting USA Swimming with a copy of the settlement agreement, constituting his admission of guilt.
“Still nothing was done,” she stated.
When she saw Curl on television “sitting prominently and generally treated as royalty during the United States Olympic Trials,” she broke her silence, giving interviews to The Washington Post and National Public Radio.
Last year, she and her attorney, B. Robert Allard, again presented a claim against Curl to USA Swimming. “Only after that time, when Mr. Allard basically held a gun to its head, did USA Swimming take any action. By then, it was far too late,” she stated.
There are discrepancies between Currin’s and USA Swimming’s timelines of events. Currin says she first approached the organization in spring 2011. However, USA Swimming claims it initiated the investigation in April 2011 after receiving a tip from a former swimmer who heard from his roommate that Curl had a sexual relationship with a minor. A year later, USA Swimming located Currin and invited her to file a complaint.
USA Swimming called for an emergency hearing to ban him from the organization.
In September 2012, Curl voluntarily relinquished his USA Swimming membership, waiving his right to a hearing.
He was arrested in October and pleaded guilty in February.
“At USA Swimming, we have the highest levels of compassion and concern for abuse victims, but we also must adhere to deliberative processes for those being accused of inappropriate conduct,” Wielgus said in a statement.
The organization’s abuse prevention initiative, Safe Sport Program, has sanctioned 36 members for “code of conduct” violations, 30 of whom have been banned for life since its initiation in 2010.
But Currin has no faith in the organization being able to regulate itself. So she’s also calling for congressional intervention.
“We’ve been contacted by some government officials who have expressed a desire to move forward on this,” said Currin’s lawyer, who is a partner at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, LLP, in San Jose, Calif. “I’m confident Congress will intervene and provide oversight in this situation,” Allard added.
He said his client has no legal standing against USA Swimming. Her only motivation is to protect young swimmers.
“I can’t tell people enough that Kelley Currin is one of the bravest people I know,” Allard said.
“Her story has made a huge difference,” he added. “She stands to get nothing.”