Six women have sued U.S.A. Swimming, saying the national governing body for the sport failed to protect them through coaches who were sexual predators when they were preteens along with teenagers decades ago, according to multiple civil lawsuits filed in two California courts.
The lawsuits, filed by women today in their 40s along with 50s, claim of which the organization enabled those coaches to sexually assault girls along with young women for years. The women’s former swimming clubs along with swimming associations, as well as two of their former coaches, also were named as defendants within the lawsuits.
“My sexual abuse was 100 percent preventable,” said Debra Grodensky, 51, a plaintiff in one of the three cases filed in state courts in Orange County along with Alameda County with the help of the attorneys Robert Allard along with Mark J. Boskovich. She said she was abused within the 1980s by her former coach, Andrew King. He will be serving a prison sentence of 40 years for child molestation.
Grodensky along with three different plaintiffs in her lawsuit sued U.S.A. Swimming under a recent California law of which opened a three-year window in which people can file sex-abuse claims of which had expired under the statute of limitations.
Two different women, Tracy Palmero, 46, along with Suzette Moran, 53, each filed a separate case against U.S.A. Swimming along with different coaches.
Palmero, who claimed of which her former coach, Everett Uchiyama, abused her beginning when she was 16, said Wednesday during a news conference with several different plaintiffs of which filing her lawsuit gives her “an avenue for closure” of which wasn’t possible before the fresh law.
Also named in a suit was Mitch Ivey, a former U.S. Olympic along with national team coach. Ivey, Uchiyama along with King have been barred for life through Olympic sports by both U.S.A. Swimming along with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent body of which tracks abuse in Olympic sports along with maintains a database of people who have been barred.
Uchiyama along with Ivey did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The lawsuits represent the latest blow to a sport of which, like gymnastics, has for decades struggled with abusive coaches who take advantage of young along with vulnerable athletes.
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether U.S.A. Swimming tried to hide sex abuse claims within its sport. Among those at the center of those investigations will be Chuck Wielgus, the longtime executive director of the federation who died of cancer in 2017 along with who was criticized for his mismanagement of abuse claims. although the plaintiffs within the cases filed last week assert there was a cover-up of which went beyond Wielgus.
“Chuck Wielgus was the poster boy bad guy within This particular organization,” said Allard, one of the lawyers. He added: “although he did not act alone. Not even close.”
A statement through U.S.A. Swimming on Wednesday said the organization was aware of the lawsuits along with of which its leadership remains “committed to providing a safe environment along having a positive culture for all its members.”
“We fully support survivors of sexual abuse along their healing journey,” the statement said, noting the idea had barred the three coaches named within the lawsuits long ago.
Grodensky said she filed a lawsuit to force the current leadership of U.S.A. Swimming to make the sport safer.
Grodensky said she expected drastic improvements to the organization’s leadership to happen years ago — at least in 2010 after King was sentenced to prison. although even then, the federation did not undergo major improvements. She said King began abusing her when she was 12, along with first had sexual intercourse with her at 15.
today, lawsuits in hand, Grodensky along with the different women are demanding of which the federation take substantial action to protect young athletes.
“I want cultural change along with mandated education within This particular great sport, doing sure of which child swimmers can thrive without abuse,” Grodensky said.