Tuesday, October 8, 2019

WSJ: Did USA Swimming Spike Investigations?

Did USA Swimming spike investigations into sexual abuse claims against swim coaches?  It is a question asked by federal prosecutors.  The Wall Street Journal reported last week:

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating USA Swimming, including allegations that the organization stifled athlete sexual-abuse claims, concealed its assets and improperly reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates from its in-house insurance company, people familiar with the matter said.

Over the past year, a federal grand jury in Manhattan has heard evidence in the investigation, which is being led by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation...

The Manhattan investigation is one of several to arise from sexual-abuse scandals that have erupted across the U.S. Olympic system in the past three years...

The U.S. Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are pursuing a multipronged investigation into alleged sexual abuse, business misconduct and possible tax violations in Olympic sports organizations, The Wall Street Journal reported in September, citing people familiar with the matter.

USA Swimming is also under scrutiny in that investigation, which involves prosecutors from the Justice Department’s money-laundering and child-exploitation units, as well as the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., said people familiar with both investigations.

Prosecutors have asked whether swimmers and other athletes felt pressured to perform sex acts on coaches in exchange for favorable spots in competition, in the U.S. and overseas.

USA Swimming is an Olympics juggernaut, hauling in dozens of medals and attracting millions in sponsorships. The Manhattan investigation is focused on two separate alleged business practices within the Colorado-based nonprofit organization, which recorded net assets of $36.3 million at the end of 2017, the latest period for which tax filings are available.

Witnesses have described to federal investigators an extrajudicial system within USA Swimming that for years stifled the reporting of abuse allegations, while protecting the organization’s bottom line and reputation, people familiar with the investigation said.

Here’s how the system worked, according to civil-court filings, disciplinary records and people familiar with the investigation: Accusers were required to submit formal complaints—including the victim’s name—to the organization, after which a USA Swimming executive would determine whether there was sufficient evidence to consider official disciplinary action. The organization would hire an outside investigator to conduct interviews, according to the people and records. (KF note: "Here's how the system worked", Really? This is the Wall Street Journal, not the Clarion-Ledger.). 

The matter might be referred to USA Swimming’s National Board of Review, a body appointed by USA Swimming executives that determined disciplinary actions against coaches.

Before the board held a hearing, these people said, a lawyer would reach out to the accuser to discuss the allegations. The lawyer was held out as being impartial, but the lawyer in fact represented USA Swimming, and during the hearing might use knowledge of the accuser’s case against the person.

“The system is designed to stop you from wanting to report,” a person briefed on the investigation said.

The system is no longer in place: In response to the sexual-abuse scandals that emerged in 2016 and 2017, federal law now requires all allegations of child abuse to be immediately reported to law enforcement and, in the case of Olympic organizations, to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

For USA Swimming, fewer reported assaults also meant fewer financial settlements and insurance claims. And here, people familiar with the investigation say, is where the organization’s handling of sexual-abuse allegations connects with possible financial wrongdoing.

In 1988, USA Swimming set up a so-called single-parent captive insurance company in Barbados. The company, the United States Sports Insurance Co., was fully owned by USA Swimming, and provided reinsurance for carriers that sold policies on behalf of USA Swimming to local swim clubs throughout the U.S. Its board was composed almost entirely of current and former USA Swimming executives, court filings show...

As USA Swimming sought to minimize its legal and financial liabilities, accusers and their lawyers have alleged, the organization’s own insurance company took pains to avoid paying claims. In the event of litigation, lawyers for accusers say, USA Swimming’s legal bills likely would exhaust the insurance policies.... Rest of article.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for reporting this, KF.

Missed in this entire drama is the fact that less than a week before Mrs. Reis was arrested, USA Swimming removed her from the banned list. So either USA Swimming is completely inept at handling this sort of thing or the local judicial system is falsely accusing a mother of 4, which has caused great harm to this family.

If USA Swimming is removing sexual predators from its banned list in order to save money on insurance premiums, then they should be taken down like USA Gymnastics were for harboring a monster as team doctor.

Justice for Swimmers said...

Of all the national news stories to post why this one Mr. Fish?

Anonymous said...

SafeSport removed her from the list, not USA Swimming.

Anonymous said...

Going directly to the SafeSport site, here's the current info on Reis. Why this doesn't match USA Swimming, I do not know.

SafeSport List said...

SafeSport DID NOT remove Reis from the list. Her name is still there with a status of "restricted."

Anonymous said...

So many commenters are in the shallow end of the pool. The real action is in the deep end. The facts are eluding you all. This went on for a year and the boy was no victim. They both had horns that had to be filed off.

Anonymous said...

Dear paid troll at 3:49PM: "So many posters"???? There were maybe five posts prior to yours. Whatever it is you think you were referring to (and honey, you're so vague, I have no idea what it might be), even if all five posters said whatever it was, that still wouldn't qualify as "so many".

Truly, hon, you should have waited until there were more posts, before pasting something about "many" other posters. Look up 'MANY'.

Anonymous said...

7:53 - Probably 'so many' referred to the total numbers on multiple blog-threads regarding this subject. There must be three or four threads on this subject. Just a guess. Reckon?

I went to the link posted above and looked around. Amazing, simply amazing how many people affiliated with swimming have been banned, most for sexual misconduct, some listed as criminal, seems to be hundreds.

Then there's this, from the link:

Savannah Reis

Brandon, MS


Interim Measure - Restriction
Adjudicating Body U.S. Center for SafeSport
Decision Date 2019-09-26
Allegations of Misconduct Interim Restriction

Anonymous said...

7:53 Sounds like some horns may release that built up tension you have.

Anonymous said...

3:49, read what you wrote again. “The boy was no victim”. Children cannot give consent. What part of that don’t you understand?

Anonymous said...

" Children cannot give consent. What part of that don’t you understand?"

17 year old children? Like the ones that lied about their age, enlisted and got killed fighting in WWII?

Don't be so condescending about 17 year olds. Some are much more mature than you realize.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of idiots. We're talking about the law. Consent has a definition and a 17 year old cannot give consent regardless of their level of maturity, horniness or patriotism. Time to move on from that issue.

Anonymous said...

It matters not what you think about maturity or what you believe the law should be regarding minors. Your opinion does not count in these situations. What part of that do you not understand?

You can also give your opinion of the speed limit or the right to throw beer bottles out your truck window...but do you think that will matter in court?

Anonymous said...

Age of consent in Mississippi is 16

Anonymous said...

Age of consent in Mississippi is 16...

Sorry, but not in the case of a person in a supervisory role such as a 'coach'. Read the law, dullard. "Coach" is specifically mentioned in the law. Go to the back of the class.

Anonymous said...

Justice for Swimmers said...Of all the national news stories to post why this one Mr. Fish?

Probably because this is not a 'national news blog'? It's rather a local news story. Try to keep up.

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