Ariana Kukors Settles In Hutchison Abuse Claim With USA Swimming For Undisclosed Sum

Winner and world record setter Ariana Kukors of the USA swims the butterfly leg in the women's 200m individual medely (IM) final at the 13th FINA World Championships at the Foro Italico complex in Rome, Italy, Monday, July 27, 2009. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Ariana Kukors Smith, who claimed the World 200m medley crown and world record in Rome back in 2009, has settled with USA Swimming for an undisclosed amount two years after pursuing a legal case against the swimming federation after she said that she had been groomed and then sexually assaulted by her personal and national-team coach Sean Hutchison when she was a teenager.

Today the fifth-place finisher over 200m medley at the London 2012 Olympic Games, announced:

“I am glad that we were able to come to a resolution to this difficult process. As I begin the next chapter of my life, I hope that these last two years, along with the efforts of so many others, will help to provide athletes with a safer environment in which to compete.”

In its own statement, USA Swimming thanked Kukors Smith for her “incredible strength and bravery” in sharing her story, adding:

“Mrs. Kukors Smith thrust the very important subject matter of sexual abuse within youth-serving organizations into focus and furthered important dialogue about the continued need for robust athlete-protection policies and strong athlete and parent education.”

Two years ago, Kukors Smith went public about abuse she alleges Hutchison inflicted on her when she was a minor. The case is not yet over, while further challenges are to come, including action against  USA Swimming, said Kukors’ lawyer Robert Allard.

Kukors Smith was a pupil in middle school when Hutchinson relocated to Seattle, Washington, to coach at the KING Aquatic Club. Hutchison was 18 years Kukors’ senior but, according to the medley ace, drew her into an abusive relationship.

“He started grooming me when I was 13,” Kukors Smith said on NBC’s Today show in 2018.

“The sexual abuse began [when I was] 15, 16. He had been controlling me since I was a kid.”

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that Hutchison was in a relationship with one of his swimmers. USA Swimming  conducted an investigation, which exonerated Hutchinson. Allard says the inquiry was flawed, claiming the process was “too fast”, “limited” and “directed by USA Swimming’s lawyers”.

Hutchison denies the allegations, while his attorney is on the record as stating that his client only began a relationship with Kukors Smith when she was an adult and that sex was consensual.

Allard says that he is bringing at least 10 more cases against USA Swimming this year.

Meanwhile, the federal government is conducting its own investigations. The FBI and attorneys with the Justice Department have already interviewed Kukors Smith, while last year the Southern of District of New York convened a grand jury to examine USA Swimming’s finances and how it handled allegations of sexual abuse.

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    • Craig Lord

      Rick Snellenberger Gosh, that’s a heavy judgement on one side from a man we assume wasn’t there …

    • Craig Lord

      Rick Snellenberger ah, I see… yes it is … or rather a practice in the course of sexual abuse …

    • Debbie Terry

      Child grooming is befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.[1][2] Child grooming is also regularly used to lure minors into various illicit businesses such as child trafficking, child prostitution, or the production of child pornography.[3][4][5]

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