Newsflash: USA Swimming = Catholic Church?

20/20 has broken news of pervasive sexual misconduct and abuse by coaches in USA Swimming, the governing body that oversees all levels of the sport, including the Olympics. Thirty-six coaches in the past 10 years have been banned for secretly videotaping, molesting, and/or raping young swimmers.

But like the Catholic Church, USA Swimming apparently kept the abuse quiet: They did not release the names of banned coaches. And in 2008, USA Swimming gave an unblemished background check to a coach who had been abusing young girls for 30 years and had been the subject of numerous complaints and investigations.

In a particularly disgusting move, the lawyer for an accused coach passed responsibility on to the parents of the swimmers, saying they were so blinded by the desire to have their children succeed that they weren’t “minding the store.”

In response to the uproar, USA Swimming says it is considering a hot line for anonymous abuse reporting and a public “black list” of coaches who have been banned for life for sexual misconduct.

Olympic Gold Medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt speaks about being molested by her coach as a child.

Via Jezebel and ABC News.

Photo courtesy of / CC BY 2.0


  1. Thanks for posting. Sexual abuse is a terrible reality and it needs to be discussed more so that people realize it is more an issue of exercising power and control than it is about sexual desire. However, I don’t know if the title of the post is the most appropriate. Although we’ve seen similar issues within the Catholic Church, I don’t think we should brand the Catholic Church as nothing more than sexual abuse scandals only because there are many branches of the Church that are evolving, and members of those branches who do good things in their communities and around the world. What do you think?

  2. Danielle says:

    Thanks for your comment, Sarah. It is true that the Catholic Church isn’t made up only of sex scandals, though that is what is being reported on. The title is meant to convey the connection that, as institutions, both the Catholic Church and USA swimming are late (reluctant?) to realize/stand up against/hold accountability for the actions of their members. While the actions of a few don’t represent the whole, it is important that the institution itself take safeguards against crimes/actions they know are being committed. I hope readers will understand that it is by no means meant as a condemnation of the Church or its members as a whole.

  3. I agree. I am wondering how many other institutions are reluctant to report cases of sexual abuse. Scary thought. It’d be interesting to study the paradigms of these institutions and see what they have in common. A definite pattern is the abuse of power…. perhaps a result of patriarchal ideals? Hypermasculinity?

  4. Thanks for the information, I cant wait to read more of your posts.

  5. This blog post is terrible, deliberately misleading, re-reporting of a poorly investigated story. There is no evidence to show that sexual misconduct is pervasive within USA Swimming; 36 identified out of over 12,000 coach members is a significantly lower rate than the general population. USA Swimming did NOT give an unblemished background check to a coach who had been abusing young girls for 30 years and had been the subject of numerous complaints and investigations. USA Swimming used a reputable company to perform background checks, a company used by numerous other national and youth organizations, including other NGBs. Additionally, the structure of USA Swimming is such that the organization itself does not hire coaches for individual swim clubs. Each club, typically operated by either a head coach or by a board of directors comprised of volunteer parents, is responsible for hiring coaches. The parents that hired these coaches failed to check with their previous employers for alleged abuse.

  6. This article serves to hightlight an important issue. The focus should not be on who did the initial background checks; rather it should be on the victims and any coverup of such abuse. Any type of absuse should not be taken lightly.


  1. […] Nesflash: USA Swimming=Catholic Church- The governing board for the U.S. Olympics has kept quiet on over 36 cases of coaches sexual assaulting their athletes, and also gave the go-ahead for a coach who had over 30 years of sexual misconduct. […]

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