Mark Schubert Responds to Legal Challenge from Ariana Kukors Smith

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

2009 World Champion, Ariana Kukors Smithcame forward in February and stated that her former coach, Sean Hutchison, began grooming her for a relationship at 13, sexually assaulted her at the age of 16 and continued to have a sexual relationship with her until she was 24.

Earlier this month, Kukors took her allegations to the legal field and filed a civil suit against Hutchison, former National Team Director Mark Schubert, and USA Swimming, moving the accusations into the legal realm with the complaint for damages including sexual abuse of a minor and negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In response to the civil suit, Coach Schubert issued the following statement:

Mark Schubert absolutely denies any wrongdoing.  He is confident that when all the facts are known, the record will show that he never ignored, or turned a blind eye to, the abuse of an athlete.  When Coach Schubert first became aware of the rumors of abuse, he reported them immediately and sought to make sure they were properly investigated.  Coach Schubert had and continues to have no tolerance for anyone who would harm a minor or violate the trust that athletes and their parents place in their coaches. 

Throughout his career, Coach Schubert has always placed what is best for the athletes first and foremost.  It has been the great honor of his professional life to work with terrific young people – not just the Olympic champions and world record holders, but thousands of great kids who have learned about discipline, commitment, and hard work through swimming.  Helping them achieve their goals, no matter how big or small, is why he continues to coach after 46 years.

Swimming World will continue to follow this story as it develops.

4 Comments

4 comments

  1. avatar
    Allena

    His statement focused more on his resume then addressing the issue. It’s disgusting.

  2. avatar
    Charles Martel

    Notice how Kukors speaks in 3rd person, as if “continued to have a sexual relationship with her” for *years* when she was a consenting adult, means “abuse.” The only having a years-long relationship as an adult could be construed as “abuse” would be if she was mentally challenged.

  3. avatar
    Swim Parent

    It looks like Schubert was one of the people, if not the only one, who reported that something might be going on between Ariana and Hutchison. He even went as far as hiring a detective and talked to the media about it. It seems that Schubert did more to help Ariana than what her parents should have done for her in the first place!

    So, where does Schubert’s responsibility end after USA Swimming ended their investigation and with then adult Ariana & her own sister’s released statements denying Ariana’s relationship with Hutchison. What else could Schubert have done? What else was expected of him by Ariana? Where does Schubert responsibility end in this matter and him being held accountable of this magnitude.

    As a parent, I cannot imagine where Ariana’s parents were this whole time? As parents, they are the first responsible adults in her life. They hold a huge responsibility in this situation. I read that the parents were “groomed” as well. How do you groom parents? How do you groom adults? How do you groom all the adults surrounding Ariana when this was all happening? Were fellow coaches like Schubert groomed as well? Where does it end?

    Could it be that parents knowingly or unknowingly gave their ‘consent’ to Hutchison by staying silent this whole time? The parents are adults and should know what is right and what is wrong for their own kids. Staying silent to what Hutchison was doing to their daughter is the same as consenting. Staying silent is the same as ignoring the abuse. Ariana’s parents turned a blind eye to what was happening between their daughter and her coach from the young age of 12 until she became an adult at 22. As a parent, I just cannot buy the excuse of not seeing any signs for that long. The parents knew and they stayed silent about the whole situation.

    Parents need to parent nowadays! They need to take responsibility and be held accountable, instead of blaming and suing others for failing to parent and losing control of their own kids. Parenting does not end when their child turns 18. You cannot just turn over your responsibility to someone else, in this case, her coach!

    I am not blaming Ariana since she was a minor when it all started. I am blaming the responsible adults in her life; first Hutchison and her parents.

Author: Taylor Brien

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Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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