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Mark Schubert threatens lawsuit after attorney, survivors ask USA Swimming to ban him, seven others

Former USA Swimming national team director and Olympic team coach Mark Schubert said he will file a defamation lawsuit against Bay Area attorney Robert Allard after Allard in an open letter Wednesday to USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey demanded the organization ban Schubert and seven other individuals.

Writing on behalf of sexual abuse survivors, Allard called on Hinchey to “immediately purge the organization of individuals who have either sexually  abused or enabled the abuse of minor swimmers.”

Allard called for a ban of former U.S. Olympic team coaches Murray Stephens and Paul Bergen, longtime American Swimming Coaches Association director John Leonard, former USA Swimming vice president Mary Jo Swalley, and three officials with Pacific Swimming, USA Swimming’s northern California association — Millie Nygren, Clint Benton and Steve Morselli.

Schubert, currently the Mission Viejo Nadadores head coach, Stephens, Bergen and Leonard are members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

“There is no doubt that sexual abuse within USA Swimming can be classified as an epidemic,” Allard said. “For decades, the organization has chosen to treat the symptom instead of fixing the root cause that has led to the molestation of countless children. This needs to end – immediately.”

As per its practice, USA Swimming did not respond to a request for comment from the Orange County Register Wednesday.

In the letter to Hinchey, Allard charged that Schubert “has an established history of remaining silent and failing to take action to protect minor swimmers when presented with information about predator coaches.”

“In his capacity as National Team Director for USA Swimming in 2010, Schubert learned that Olympic coach Sean Hutchison was sexually abusing his swimmer Ariana Kukors,” the letter continued. “Schubert unconscionably decided to withhold this information until after he was fired by USA Swimming when he tried to extort his way into replacing Hutchison at the Fullerton Aquatics Swim Club (“FAST”). Schubert retaliated against well-respected swim coach Dia Rianda for complaining about predatory behavior displayed by fellow coach Bill Jewell

Schubert reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with Rianda, a former Golden West Swim Club employee, in November 2014 in her wrongful termination civil suit.

Rianda, a former Golden West coach and administrator, said she was fired by Schubert, the Golden West’s head coach, in July 2012 after she continued to complain to USA Swimming officials and others about what she and other Golden West employees alleged was a pattern of inappropriate behavior by GWSC assistant coach Bill Jewell toward young female swimmers ranging from sexual comments to inappropriate touching, according to depositions, court filings, emails and other documents obtained by the Orange County Register.

In sworn depositions, police reports, memos, letters and emails obtained by the Register, young female swimmers, Jewell’s fellow coaches and other swimming officials also alleged sexually inappropriate behavior by Jewell while coached at  the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST).

Jewell was suspended by USA Swimming for three years in 2013 for making sexually explicit comments to young female athletes and other individuals involved with the sport. Jewell, who guided the careers of a series of future Olympians and U.S. national team members, accepted the ban after waiving his right to a hearing as part of a deal in which USA Swimming agreed not to pursue charges based on alleged misconduct that took place while Jewell worked for Schubert at GWSC.

“Dia and I settled and it was supposed to be confidential so maybe we’ll get some money back now,” Schubert said. “For (Allard) to accuse me of not protecting athletes and knowing about abuse when I didn’t find out about those coaches until after the fact is false and unconscionable. I will be filing a defamation suit.”

The letter to Hinchey alleges Schubert didn’t support Kelley Davies Currin at the University of Texas.

Davies Currin told three Longhorn coaches that she had been sexually abused between 1983 and 1986 by Rick Curl, her Maryland club coach. The abuse, Davies Currin said, began when she was 12 and Curl was 34.The Texas coaches were Longhorn men’s coach Eddie Reese, Richard Quick, then the Texas women’s coach, and Schubert, who replaced Quick as the Longhorn women’s coach. All three men would coach Team USA at multiple Olympic Games.

“When Currin confided to Schubert that she had been abused by her coach Rick Curl, Schubert’s reaction was to dismiss her from the team after determining that she was a ‘distraction,’” Allard said.

“Schubert was on the board of ASCA when that organization presented Curl with the ‘Coach of the Year’ award in 1994,” the letter also said.

Schubert said he did not vote for Curl in the 1994 election.

Davies Currin called for Schubert’s expulsion from the sport in 2013 after a Maryland court sentenced Curl, 63, whose swimmers set 10 world records, to seven years in prison for abusing Davies Currin between ages 13 and 17.

Schubert said Wednesday that Currin was recruited to Texas by Quick, who died in 2009.

Schubert said Davies Currin asked him not to go to authorities about the abuse because a confidentiality clause that was part of a financial settlement she and her family had reached with Curl.

“I was appalled but she begged me not to say anything because she didn’t want to jeopardize an $80,000 settlement with Curl,” Schubert said. “I didn’t kick her off the team. She quit.”

Rumors of Curl’s abuse continued to be widespread within the sport through the 1990s and into this century.  Yet Curl’s career continued to thrive. He was named to U.S. national team staffs. Swimmers coached by Curl won medals for four countries at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Schubert said in a sworn 2013 deposition and again in an interview with the Register in 2017, that he first informed then USA Swimming executive director Wielgus of Curl’s abuse of Davies Currin in 2007. Schubert, then the national team director and concerned about Curl’s presence at USA Swimming training camps and at USA Swimming and USOC facilities, said he later brought up the Curl-Davies Currin situation again with Wielgus and USA Swimming assistant executive director Mike Unger. Schubert also said he approached Wielgus and other top USA Swimming officials about Curl in January and July of 2010.

RELATED: Mark Schubert is a legend for making U.S. swimmers champions, but did he fail when they needed him most?

More than three years after Schubert said he first raised the Curl-Davies Currin issue with him, Wielgus in a May 2010 deposition was asked if he had ever received “any information about (Curl) having an inappropriate sexual contact with one of his swimmers?”

“I have never received any information about that,” Wielgus said.

Wielgus later said nothing could be done without a victim coming forward. Yet even when Davies Currin filed a claim against Curl with USA Swimming in the spring of 2011, the organization refused to take action, according to USA Swimming documents. Davies Currin’s 2011 complaint with USA Swimming included a copy of the settlement agreement signed by Curl, she said.

A  year later, Curl was spotted at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials on the competition pool deck and in the arena’s VIP section wearing an official credential issued by USA Swimming.

Not only did Wielgus and the federation fail to act on Schubert’s information, USA Swimming awarded the Curl-Burke swim club, founded and owned by Curl, $40,023 in grants between 2006 and 2012, $30,425 of the funding coming after Schubert said he first told Wielgus about Curl’s abuse.

Curl was only banned for life by USA Swimming in September 2012 after an emergency hearing was called by the federation following a Washington Post story detailing Curl’s sexual abuse of Davies Currin.

World champion swimmer Ariana Kukors Smith alleged in a 2018 lawsuit that Schubert, then the U.S. national team director, was aware that U.S. Olympic and national team coach Sean Hutchison was having a sexually inappropriate relationship with her but took no action. Kukors Smith said Schubert was informed that Hutchison was spotted leaving her room at a national team training camp in Italy prior to the 2009 World Championships.

Twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres told the Register in 2018 that she told USA Swimming officials during the 2009 Worlds that she saw Hutchison come out of Kukors Smith’s hotel room during the trip.

“I did say something because it was so wrong,” Torres said. “Here’s this young girl, it just seemed odd. I said something to Mark, and somebody from USA Swimming said they’d take care of it.”

Schubert told the Register in 2018 that he was not made aware of the incident until after the trip.

“And then I later found out from Dara that she caught him sneaking out of (Kukors’) room at the World Championships at 3 o’clock in the morning and I was furious about it. Because I was the head coach on that team,” Schubert said.

But Kukors Smith said Schubert confronted Hutchison in Italy.

“Sean told me that Schubert had told him that one of the swimmers had said that they saw us sneaking around to each other’s rooms. Sean was the head coach of the women’s team at this meet, so obviously had a lot of power, and my understanding was Schubert told Sean to be careful,” Kukors Smith said. “Sean passed along the message to me that we needed to be more secretive and watch our backs. I did not want to get in trouble, so I complied. We referred back to that instance often when Sean would remind me of the need for secrecy.”

Kukors Smith, the 2009 World champion in the 200-meter individual medley, alleged that Hutchison, initially her coach at King Aquatics in Washington State, began grooming her for a sexual relationship when she was 13, sexually assaulted her at 16, and continued to have a sexual relationship with her and exert control over almost every aspect of her daily life until she was 24.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport banned Hutchison from the sport for life in October 2018, more than seven years after he was cleared by a USA Swimming investigation. SafeSport found that Hutchison had engaged in sexual misconduct against Kukors Smith when she was a minor. The SafeSport investigation also found that Hutchison molested Kukors Smith, had her perform oral sex on him and took nude photos of her when she was still a minor.

USA Swimming reached an out of court with settlement with Kukors Smith in March. Schubert was released from lawsuit in July 2019. Allard and attorneys for Kukors Smith asked the Orange County Superior Court to dismiss her suit against Schubert “with prejudice.”

Source: Orange County Register

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