Monday, April 5, 2010
Recently sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting young swimmers, Andrew King had access to the young girls through his position as a USA swimming coach for more than 30 years.
The King case exposed the massive shortcomings of USA Swimming and local swim clubs in dealing with coaches who preyed on their young swimmers. The coaches manage to jump from team to team, ahead of allegations surrounding their departure.
Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming said that it is his goal to create a "gold standard program for dealing with conduct complaints and abuse allegations."
Some say Wieglus' attempts are too little too late. In 2005, in a "State of USA Swimming" address, USA Swimming president, Ron Van Pool said that plans for a background screening process were nearing completion. The plan was not adopted until 2006, and placed the heavy burden of paying for the expensive tests on the volunteer boards at local swim clubs.
In the past 10 years, 36 swim coaches have been banned for life from the USA Swimming for sex abuse or misconduct, but the organization doesn't always notify the police.
USA Swimming is looking to implement the following strategies for dealing with sexual misconduct:
- Anonymous reporting
- Intense examination of how complaints are made and who handles them
- How coaches, swimmers, parents, and staff are educated about appropriate behavior
- Reinforcing to local swim clubs that is their responsibility to conduct in-depth background checks