USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey is currently being investigated by the U.S. Government amidst allegations that he, as well as his predecessor, the late Chuck Wielgus, were aware of 19 separate complaints of coaches engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with the young swimmers, and ignoring them. The complaints, dating back to 2014, have been all but forgotten, and the U.S. wants answers.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey is Being Investigated By The Government
Hinchey received a letter dated January 26, 2018 from the United States Congress. A committee has been formed to investigate USA Swimmings handlings of 19 complaints submitted by swimmers alleging sexual abuse at the hands of their coaches.
The letter also references the “abhorrent abuse” suffered by the members of the members of the USA Gymnastics team, and seeks to ensure that USA Swimming has proper systems in place to protect its athletes from such mistreatment.
What follows is a series of three detailed questions requesting specific information about the complaints lodged in 2014, who know about them and how they were handled.
012618 USA Swimming Sexual Abuse by Laura Kelley on Scribd
2. The Late, Former Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus May Have Known Extremely Disturbing Complaints by Athletes
“Former executive director Chuck Wielgus, in particular, was criticized for failing to investigate abuse complaints against a coach who would later plead guilty to 20 counts of child molestation. Wielgus, who died last year, apologized for his handling of sexual abuse complaints years later,” reports USA Today.
Wielgus first addressed the rumors of sexual abuse complaints in 2010, saying that “he had nothing to be sorry for,” as ESPN reports.
In 2014, he finally went on to issue an apology. “He went on to write: “Going back in time, I wish I knew long before 2010 what I know today. I wish my eyes had been more open to the individual stories of the horrors of sexual abuse. I wish I had known more so perhaps I could have done more,” ESPN continues.
“I cannot undo the past. I’m sorry, so very sorry.”
3. A Bipartisan Committee Has Been Formed Specifically for Investigative Purposes
Of course, the committee stated on its site that it will continue to investigate sexual misconduct concerning USA Gymnastics. However, USA Gymnastics and USA Swimming are not the only sports which are being scrutinized.
“WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), #SubDCCP Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS), and #SubOversight Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent letters today to USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University, USA Swimming, and USA Taekwondo regarding sexual abuse within organized sports,” explained the committee.
“Two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez and his older brother Jean, who is his coach, were allowed to go to the Rio Olympics in 2016 despite being under investigation for sexual misconduct for more than two years. USA TODAY Sports found that USA Taekwondo never held hearings on complaints against either brother, even though its bylaws require the ethics committee “to ensure that all complaints are heard in a timely, fair and impartial manner. But the investigating attorney, Donald Alperstein, had enough concern that he shared information with the FBI and alerted police in the Lopezes’ hometown of Sugar Land, Texas,” reported USA Today.
4. Dr. Larry Nassar is A Suspect in The Investigation
The committee writes the following about Dr. Nassar:
The letters follow the recent sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar for his abuse of more than 150 women and girls, as well as last year’s reports of sexual misconduct allegations in the Taekwondo community, and the 2014 allegations of sexual abuse from 19 former U.S. swimmers.
“The abhorrent abuses associated with Dr. Nassar’s case and the allegations by U.S. Taekwondo athletics and U.S. swimmers are disgusting and outrageous, and raise serious concerns about protecting athletes from abuse and mistreatment in organized sports. These organizations must have mechanisms in place to ensure complete oversight and prevent such abuses from occurring. As we move forward in gathering the facts, this committee intends to hold a hearing in order to investigate these critical issues further,” said Chairman Walden.
In their letter to USA Gymnastics, the members wrote: “The abhorrent abuses associated with this case are outrageous, and raise serious concerns about your organization’s ability to oversee your sport and protect your athletes from abuse and mistreatment. Accordingly, the Committee is seeking information from USA Gymnastics because of the role it plays in overseeing gymnastics and protecting all of its athletes.”
5. There Are Reports of Sexual Misconduct Dating Back to the 90s
“One coach, Brian Hindson of Kokomo, IN, secretly taped teenage girls he coached in two high school pool locker rooms, one in which he directed girls to a “special” shower room where he had a hidden camera inside a locker,” reports ABC News.
Of course, this article refers to a high school coach, not an Olympic one. But still, it raises the issue of vulnerability. From high school swimmers to Olympic athletes, how do we protect vulnerable young athletes? From preteens to high schoolers to young adult woman, it seems that no one is safe.
The following is a letter that addresses inappropriate sexual behavior (specifically, this letter refers to gymnastics, but it is significant nonetheless), back in the 90s.
USA Gymnastics Letter to U S Olympic Committee by Laura Kelley on Scribd