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Ask Congress to stop the sexual abuse of kids who participate in youth sports

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There are 3.2 million kids who participate in youth sports which are governed by the rules and regulations of the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) National Governing Bodies such as USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics, and other sports organizations.

More than 100 USA Swimming coaches, responsible for coaching nearly 400,000 young kids, have been permanently banned for various codes of conduct violations, including the sexual abuse of kids. This is one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in the history of amateur sports.

Many more predator coaches, including Norm Havercroft pictured above, have not been banned and have been allowed to continue having access to young kids. Why? Because there is no statute requiring entities like USA Swimming or even the USOC to protect kids from sexual abuse by coaches.

On June 3rd, the International Swimming Hall of Fame rescinded USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus’s induction due to his failure to address the sexual abuse of young female swimmers.  19 victims of coaching sexual abuse and 29 stalwarts of the swimming community led the successful protest.

The Norm Havercroft case is serves as one example of why Congress must get involved to protect young kids from coaching sexual abuse.

USA Swimming settled a claim for childhood sexual abuse with a 13-year-old sexual abuse victim of Havercroft for, reportedly, $400,000.  Yet, 8 years later in 2010, Chuck Wielgus denied under penalty of perjury that USA Swimming had any knowledge of prior claims or allegations of sex abuse against Havercroft. Worse, USA Swimming and Wielgus allowed Havercroft to continue coaching and molesting Jancy Thompson, even though USA Swimming coaches and directors knew Havercroft was being investigated by the police for childhood sexual abuse as early as 1997. Havercroft has never been banned or sanctioned by USA Swimming.  

As the number of coaches banned for sexually molesting kids continues to rise, the USOC refuses to intervene and take action against its National Governing Bodies forcing sex abuse victims to ask the public for help.

Asking for Congress to Intervene

We’re now asking to amend the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. Sec. 220501 et seq., to protect girls and women from sexual abuse in club and Olympic sports, the same way that Title IX protects females against abuse in schools and that Title VII protects employees.

In addition, we’re asking that those responsible for perjury and cover up of multiple instances of sexual abuse to be held responsible. As the formal petition on behalf of 19 sexual abuse victims to the Swimming Hall of Fame made clear, USAS and Chuck Wielgus arguably committed perjury and covered up sexual abuse, violating 18 U.S.C. 1621-1622 and 18 U.S.C. Code 1001 and 1519 and other laws.

Why is this important?

There is no statute requiring a sport’s governing body to address sex abuse. There is no civil right or legal protection from sex discrimination in the Olympic movement, or most non-school-sponsored sports, which includes 3.2 million children and athletes. While the Sports Act does contain a prohibition against sex discrimination, it is unenforceable, unlike Title IX.

Over the years, USAS has insulated itself to a small group of "swimming insiders” of just 200-300 hand-picked people, rather than the 400,000 members of USAS. They make sure that the sponsor’s money flows to Wielgus, who earns over $900,000 a year, and his well-paid cronies. But more importantly, this small group has allowed a culture to continue that allows sexual abusers to prey upon the athletes they coach.

Chuck Wielgus recently issued a public apology, but failed to acknowledge any wrong-doing that harmed victims; instead apologizing that he didn’t know better, didn’t know more, and didn’t appreciate the seriousness of sexual abuse.

We, the victims, love this great sport and are deeply concerned about the failed policies and actions of the leadership and organization. We want our sport ridded of child molester coaches and corrupt leaders running this organization. We think the best way to accomplish this is through Congressional action that will hold the leaders of this organization accountable for their misconduct and to make the necessary changes to the Sports Act to keep all club-sport athletes safe from sexual abuse. 



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