INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, February 1. KEN Stopkotte has filed a defamation and malicious prosecution lawsuit today against those who accused him of stealing swimming club funds for personal use, a claim that was later dismissed in court.
Stopkotte's suit, filed today by attorney Jonathan Little, names the Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation and Mel Goldstein as the defendants. Hamilton has been a part of the Stopkotte allegations since the former swim coach was accused of stealing $17,000 in late 2010 from the Fishers Area Swim Team (FAST) and putting the funds into a private bank account.
But today's lawsuit naming Goldstein is the first time the Masters swim coach has been publicly linked to the ordeal. Stopkotte alleges that Goldstein, the head coach at YMCA Indy SwimFit, was the person who informed staffers in the school district of his suspicions that the funds were being funneled to a personal bank account for Stopkotte. Goldstein's team was paying rent to FAST for using the Fishers High School pool, rent money that was Stopkotte's responsibility to deposit at the time. The charges of felony theft against Stopkotte were dropped last March, largely because of evidence proving that the bank account Stopkotte created for the $17,000 was in the name of the Fishers Area Swim Team and got the approval of district administration, including athletic director John Miles and Fishers High School treasurer Julie Roach. Throughout the legal process, Stopkotte continually denied ever using the funds for personal reasons.
“Looking back in hindsight, it is clear that Miles enlisted Roach so it wouldn't raise any red flags with his superiors at the HSE Central Office,” said Little. “Had the school district conducted an impartial investigation, they would have discovered that no monies were misappropriated and that all revenue was accounted for.”
The accusations led to Stopkotte spending eight days in a Tennessee jail awaiting extradition to Indiana. Little said in a statement that the lawsuit holds Hamilton and Goldstein responsible for damaging Stopkotte's reputation “emotionally and financially by the phony criminal charges.”
Today's announcement by Little does not mention any financial compensation Stopkotte hopes to get from Hamilton and Goldstein, but does seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as “all other relief just and proper in the premises.”
Stopkotte recently completed his two-year ban from USA Swimming for adjusting official times from various swim meets nearly three years ago. He still has time left to serve on his five-year ban from Indiana Swimming.