Controversy Surrounding NBAC From Three-Decade-Old Misconduct Allegation

BALTIMORE, Maryland, October 4. USA Swimming has informed families of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club that a complaint had been filed against a former NBAC coach, but that the National Governing Body has no jurisdiction over the complaint. USA Swimming further explained in a letter addressed to the “parents and friends of NBAC” that the complaint was forwarded to the Baltimore County Police Department.

Not much else has been confirmed other than the alleged incident of abuse occurred in 1975, and that the coach accused of the incident has since resigned from NBAC and resigned membership from USA Swimming as well. Specifics regarding the nature of the alleged abuse, or who was allegedly involved, have not been confirmed. However, the available sample of people that fit the specific criteria is fairly small.

USA Swimming's letter stated the following regarding the specific complaint filed: “There is not a current investigation involving any coach from NBAC. There was previously a complaint filed regarding an incident alleged to have occurred in 1975, back when swimming was governed by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Because USA Swimming (and therefore its Code of Conduct) was not in existence in 1975, the organization legally had no recourse in the matter. However, due to USA Swimming's commitment to Safe Sport and the safety of our swimmers, we reported the complaint and information received to the Baltimore County Police Department, Precinct 1.”

The letter went out in response to a blog post by WBAL's Tim Joyce's claiming a much different set of facts.

Joyce reports that NBAC also alerted the authorities, and then alerted USA Swimming regarding the allegations. Joyce then called USA Swimming on the carpet for not beginning a full investigation. USA Swimming countered in its letter stating that it had no jurisdiction over the case because it happened before USA Swimming's existence, and also that the coach is no longer a member of USA Swimming and is also no longer under its jurisdiction.

USA Swimming voiced frustration in its letter to the NBAC families with what it calls “inaccurate, sensational, issue-driven reporting.”

Swimming World will stay close to the situation with updates on the situation as they present themselves.

Full text of letter from USA Swimming
Q&A: On the blog about North Baltimore Aquatic Club

Dear parents and friends of NBAC,

It has come to our attention that a local AM radio station has been broadcasting unfounded accusations about USA Swimming's handling of a complaint to our Safe Sport team related to NBAC involving an alleged incident that occurred 37 years ago. While the organization continues to work compassionately and tirelessly on our comprehensive abuse-prevention initiative, which is routinely recognized as the best in Olympic sport, we remain as frustrated as you are with inaccurate, sensational, issue-driven reporting like this.

Regardless, we believe strongly in our responsibility to provide responsible communication on this issue, so we developed the Q&A below to answer questions you may have about this situation.

Swimming is a fun, healthy activity that provides a positive, valuable life experience for its participants. All of us at USA Swimming are committed to fostering that experience for all our members in a safe environment.

Please know that we take the safety of our swimmers very seriously, and through our Safe Sport program we thoroughly investigate issues and quickly and prudently take action. That is our unwavering commitment to you.

What is USA Swimming's stance on Safe Sport?
USA Swimming put in place a comprehensive Safe Sport program, which is among the strongest in youth sports. Our program consists of efforts in six core areas:
1. Policies & Guidelines
2. Screening & Selection
3. Training & Education
4. Monitoring & Supervision
5. Recognizing, Reporting & Responding
6. Grassroots Engagement & Feedback.

USA Swimming is proud of its proactive approach to abuse prevention and continually strives to be the leader in Safe Sport in the Olympic movement.

During our annual convention, USA Swimming released a “Safe Sport Report” evaluating our efforts in this important area. The report is attached to this email for your review.

What is the status of the complaint and investigation arising from NBAC?
There is not a current investigation involving any coach from NBAC. There was previously a complaint filed regarding an incident alleged to have occurred in 1975, back when swimming was governed by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Because USA Swimming (and therefore its Code of Conduct) was not in existence in 1975, the organization legally had no recourse in the matter. However, due to USA Swimming's commitment to Safe Sport and the safety of our swimmers, we reported the complaint and information received to the Baltimore County Police Department, Precinct 1.

What happened to the coach?
The coach resigned both his position at the club and his USA Swimming membership in 2011.

How does USA Swimming handle complaints?
USA Swimming takes all complaints regarding violations of the Code of Conduct, and especially those involving alleged abuse, very seriously. When a complaint is received, USA Swimming initiates an investigation through a third-party investigator. The investigator conducts a thorough review to determine if the complaint has merit.

When the investigation corroborates the complaint, USA Swimming requests a National Board of Review Hearing against the individual. The National Board of Review has the authority to rule on the membership status of the accused individual. The highest penalty USA Swimming can invoke is the permanent suspension of membership. Additionally, when the complaint involves abuse of a minor, USA Swimming reports that information to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

What about screening for coaches?
USA Swimming does extensive background checks (covering federal, state and county records) on coaches and has added a background check requirement for all non-athlete members. We also require teams to perform additional pre-employment screenings of new coaches. All Non-athlete members of USA Swimming are also required to complete athlete protection training.

USA Swimming publishes a public listing of individuals suspended from the organization for life.

As a parent, what can I do about Safe Sport?
USA Swimming offers free online education on the issue of Safe Sport and abuse prevention for parents of our 330,000 athlete members. We strongly encourage all of our parents to participate in this convenient online training by visiting www.usaswimming.org/protect and clicking on “Education.”

What if I have questions or concerns?
USA Swimming employs a Safe Sport staff at our national headquarters in Colorado Springs, and the staff members are here to help answer questions, execute programming and accept reports. You can contact Susan Woessner, director of Safe Sport, at swoessner@usaswimming.org or Elizabeth Hoendervoogt, Safe Sport coordinator, at ehoendervoogt@usaswimming.org.

Get more information about Safe Sport here (http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1955&Alias=rainbow&Lang=en)

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