BRISBANE, March 27. SCOTT VOLKERS, one of the most renowned swim coaches in Australia, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with child sex offences. The abuses allegedly occurred in the 1980s.
Volkers, who coached dual Olympic gold medalist Susie O'Neill and 1994 double world breaststroke champion Samantha Riley, claimed today that he is innocent.
"All I have to say is that I am pleading not guilty and I will be fighting the charges vigorously," Volkers told reporters today in Brisbane.
"I just want to thank the people who have supported me with all the phone calls," Volkers said in the short, televised news conference outside his house, after he was released on bond.
Police issued a statement on Wednesday saying a Queensland man had been charged with five counts of "indecent treatment of a girl under the age of 16" and would appear in court on April 5. Under Queensland law police could not identify the man.
The Brisbane Courier-Mail reported that Volkers was arrested on Tuesday night at his home.
The newspaper said Volkers, head coach of the Queensland Academy of Sport's swimming program, had been charged with allegedly fondling two swimmers aged 12 and 14 between 1985 and 1987.
News of the arrest shocked the Australian swimming community. "I'm absolutely stunned. I've had 12 years with Scott Volkers…and I never saw any sign of any of this," said Don Talbot, former national head swimming coach.
Talbot said swimming coaches worldwide were vulnerable to child sex abuse charges due to the nature of the job where they needed to massage swimmers and congratulate them on victory.
"In the last few years of my doing the job with Australian Swimming we were…warned by Australian Swimming that you must not touch any athlete, even gestures of friendship and congratulations," Talbot said.
"Coaches do that with both males and females, but today the construction is if you touch a female like that it's something that's insidious," he said.
Susie O'Neill reportedly was stunned by the news.
"You're kidding. He was always an absolute gentleman with me and I'm completely staggered by this," O'Neill told the Courier-Mail.