New England Legend Joe Bernal Banned for Life By USA Swimming

Joe Bernal
Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

Joe Bernal, the former head coach and owner of Bernal’s Gators Swim Club in New England, has now been banned for life by USA Swimming.

Bernal, who also coached at Harvard and is most known for coaching world record holders David Berkoff and Bobby Hackett, has been banned for life after violating three separate versions of USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct 3:04.3.5 that is meant to protect athletes from sexual misconduct..

CODE OF CONDUCT (2002-2008) – SECTION 304.3.5

304.3.5 Any sexual contact or advance or other inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards an athlete by a coach, official, trainer, or other person who, in the context of swimming, is in a position of authority over that athlete.

CODE OF CONDUCT (2009) – SECTION 304.3.5

304.3.5 Any inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards a member by any other adult participating in any capacity whatsoever in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming or its LSCs (whether such adult is a member or not). Any nonconsensual physical sexual conduct, or pattern of unwelcome advances or other sexual harassment in connection with or incidental to a USA Swimming-related activity by any person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming or its LSCs (whether such person is a member or not) directed toward any member or other person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming or its LSCs. (effective September 27, 2008)

CODE OF CONDUCT (2010) – SECTION 304.3.5

304.3.5 Any sexual conduct, advance or other inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards an athlete by (i) a coach member or other non-athlete member, or (ii) any other adult participating in any capacity whatsoever in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming (whether such adult is a member or not). Any nonconsensual physical sexual conduct, or pattern of unwelcome advances or other sexual harassment in connection with or incidental to a USA Swimming-related activity by any person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming (whether such person is a member or not) directed toward any member or other person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming.

The ban is effective as of February 23, 2016, but was just publicized today.

Earlier this year, the swim club changed its name to Gator Swim Club during an ownership change.

Gator Swim Club Statement:

“Gator Swim Club was formed on January 27, 2016, when the assets of Bernal’s Gator Swim Club were purchased from Bernal’s Gators Swim Club of New England, Inc. Gator Swim Club has no relationship to Joe Bernal. He is not employed by the Club or involved in any of its operations.”

Coach Bernal was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame in September of 2015. As an existing member of ASCA his membership will be immediately revoked.

Swimming World Magazine featured Coach Bernal as part of their Lessons With The Legends series back in February of 2015.

122 Comments
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6 years ago

Wow!!

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Bummed
6 years ago

So sad, what a legend as a coach and now to be remembered for this.

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Furious about rapeculture
6 years ago
Reply to  Bummed

Really? You’re worried about the guy who sexually assaulted people’s tarnished reputation. Wow.
You’re right it’s so sad that he will be remembered as a sexual predator when he has all those wonderful accomplishments that he earned WHILE sexually assaulting his athletes, totally different. If only we could all accept his rape as something normal and focus on his accomplishments. Just like we did with the famous painter Adolf Hitler.

Watering down a coaches rape and sexual assault just lets other predators out there know that they could probably get away with some more sexual abuse of their athletes since there will always be people like you ready to defend them.

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Nazis. I hate these guys.
6 years ago

Watch out guys. She just pulled out the Hitler card.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago

Now everyone knows what I’ve known for over 30 years. Not a good guy. Neither was John Trites. I’m saddened, but not surprised.

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John
6 years ago

This must be the first time that 2 coaches that were on the same club team have been banned by USA Swimming? John Trites, Joe’s former assistant at Gator and at Harvard, and now Joe himself. Yes not surprised at all, very sad for the victim(s)!

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Aaron
6 years ago
Reply to  John

tiger aquatic club in Idaho also has two – Dustin Perry and Steve Witcher.

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anon
6 years ago
Reply to  John

Don’t forget about is son..oh wait Joe covered that one up.

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Anonymous
6 years ago

Agreed. Finally. He was such a ***.

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ANON
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

lol so true

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Shirley G
6 years ago

Trites was at Franklin and Marshall during the period of time leading to his being banned. He coached at Gators and Harvard before that time period.

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P
6 years ago

I swam for coach bernal for 10 years, and I knew the man very well. This seems extremely unlike him, and with what I’ve heard about the USA swimming trial process, I really have little doubt the accusations are false. It is a shame we live in such a society. I think all the people coach has helped along the way know in there hearts all this man has done for them, and no “federation” can take that away from us.

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LEGEND
6 years ago
Reply to  P

Whole heartedly agree. Coach is one of the greatest men I have ever had the privilege to know and no statement made by USA Swimming will ever change that. USA Swimming can do as they wish to tarnish his legacy, true legends never die.

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Carl
6 years ago
Reply to  P

I absolutely agree. I have been fortunate enough to know Coach Bernal as a former swimmer (10 years under his coaching) and another 20 as a colleague. Its incredible to me how baseless accusations (no proof required) are used to destroy the legacy of such an innovator in the sport.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Carl

Love him or not, everyone has to agree that he was an arrogant man. That arrogance helped him with his success. That being said, innocent, arrogant people don’t flee the country when accusations occur. They fight and disprove allegations. Certainly I don’t know the specifics of what he is accused of, but my experience with him as a coach and then a swimmer on a competing team was not good. He had his favorites and if you were not one, you were mistreated. You were simply there to collect swimming dues to fund the team. In fact, I didn’t significantly improve until I left gators. More will be learned in the coming months.

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Renata Petros
6 years ago
Reply to  P

I knowed him many years ago, I came from Europe and I trained in his swimm club yung swimmers as a coach (1989-1991). He was very proffesional and known his work very well. I think he did a big job to USA swimming. Renata

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ANON
6 years ago
Reply to  P

If you swam for coach for that long you remember the oddly close fondness he had for his senior women’s teams. You must remember the massages he’d give to swimmers on the pool decks. It does put some suspicion into my mind, maybe not yours.

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M
6 years ago
Reply to  P

I am in total agreement. Look to his daughter for these trumped up false charges

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John
6 years ago
Reply to  M

Wrong she did not, the victim came forward to USA Swimming. Stop blaming others or USA Swimming for his behaviors. Not trumped false charges otherwise he would not have been banned. Too many people know of Joe’s actions, just read the boards. Probably a lot more could be said too. Many supporters too who continue to support him given this news. People need to support the victims in this, as many lives have changed / been effected due to this situation. This is a sad and bad situation for many.

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La Li Lu Le Lo
6 years ago
Reply to  M

Cuz when I want facts, I go to message boards.

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6 years ago

I’m not sure what happened here but I swam for Joe years ago and I remember a wonderful coach, who worked hard, played hard and whom all his swimmers adored and walked through fire for! This “article” is horrible.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Michele Dantas

You are wrong. I am 100% proof that he was not good and wonderful to everyone and my family didn’t adore him. I was abused physically and mentally while on gators under the coaching of John Trites. Bernal knew about it. While bernal didn’t physically abuse me, he sure did mentally abuse me. Ever wonder why parents were not allowed to watch practices? A volunteer mom saw what was happening to me at practice and suggested to my parents that I get psychological counseling for the abuse that I was getting. I never did get counceling, but I turned out OK. While many only saw the good in bernal, he definitely had a bad side. This is first person experience. We simply quit and joined a different team. I know for a fact that others felt the same wayway as I did. That being said, I am not the accuser. I’m disproving that he was only good and everyone adored him.

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6 years ago

Since the allegations seem to be submitted anonymously, I withhold judgement. All of the coaches I ever knew were scrupulous in their manner and treatment of athletes.

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Tony
6 years ago

As is obvious from the comments, this standard of reporting is wholly inadequate.
If you’re going to publish at all then publish the details of the chatges, evidence and judicial process so that readers can see that justice has been done – if indeed it has

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Jeff c
6 years ago

Ive known coach since i was a kid & he would catch us sneaking into the blodgett pool thsts how i came to know the man and eventually worked for him personally taking csre of his kids kinda like a guy nanny . I have NEVER ever seen coach act any other way but professionally hes a great man and gave me an inner city kid a chance & i will be forever grateful to him.
Let the chips fall where they may & in the end coach will stand tall.
Helped a lot of people
I got your back coach .

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Swim Mom
6 years ago

Just thinking what an opportunity for Swimming World to exhibit some real journalism and true reporting on the sport of swimming. Why not report on the process an accused individual has to defend oneself within this private organization? The reality is there is no due process thus leaving coaches, officials and potentially volunteers vulnerable to vindictive behavior. The first priority is the kids, no one is denying that, but the kids are victimized when a respected coach is suddenly removed, it’s personal for them and a substantial loss. Until I did my own research, I assumed there was fairness and the opportunity to prove one’s innocence, in addition to facing and questioning the accuser….there is none of that! It’s a phone call, not a hearing! USA Swimming has the ability to tarnish anyone and with what motivation? Potentially to overcompensate to protect themselves with no conscience, destroying a legacy, a career and personal relationships in its wake. I would ask the swimming community to find out for themselves the facts of this one sided process and help protect our kids and our coaches!

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You're all morons
6 years ago
Reply to  Swim Mom

Are you joking? Did you ever stop and think how the victim might feel?

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HAHAHAHAHA
6 years ago

The accuser lied haha, Joe Bernal never did anything wrong. Makes me sick to my stomach that an individual with malicious intentions has the ability to destroy a legend nowadays…

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Duncan Jax
6 years ago

Unclench, Y.A.M.

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Victim?
6 years ago

The only victim here is Coach Bernal, who has been the victim of a false accusation and a USA Swimming-sanctioned kangaroo court.

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John Smith
6 years ago

I remember one night when I was eleven on a travel trip with my mom who was chaperoning. She remembers a young female swimmer entering Coach Bernal’s room in the middle of the night because she was “sick”. My mom asked why the girl wouldn’t come to her and Coach said it was because the girl felt more comfortable with him. Ever since that night my family has always been a little skeptical of him. It’s a shame he had to use his power in such a way.

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Yeah right
6 years ago
Reply to  John Smith

Either you’re lying, or you suspected abuse your years and said/did nothing. Either way you seem like a real loser.

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John Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Yeah right

We did do something, we confronted the girl and Coach, they both agreed that it was fine. We also informed the girls parents. It is hard to help a victim if they are too scared to admit they need help. We did what we could at the time, and now we should all support these girls rather than putting their experiences to shame.

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Yeah right
6 years ago
Reply to  Yeah right

“We did what we could at the time”

No you didn’t. You could have gone to USA Swimming or New England Swimming if you truly felt that strongly about it…but you didn’t.

Then again, I suspect this is all irrelevant because you likely are not telling the truth in the first place…which is why you are content to share your story from behind an alias.

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John Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Yeah right

We hoped that it wasn’t what we thought. You’re right we didn’t think too strongly of it, but now that this article and other articles have been published on other outlets it all seems to make sense. Of course we hoped that what happened that night was innocent but now given the information it leaves some questions in the air. Clearly we should have done more, but most of us viewed Coach as a respectable accomplished man which makes you want to believe the best in him, just as you do now. It is sad for the victims that they are not receiving the support from the community that they would like to feel.

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Yeah right
6 years ago
Reply to  Yeah right

I’m confused. Did you “do what you could at the time”, or did you sit back and just “hope that it wasn’t what you thought”? You want people to believe your story but it’s difficult when you can’t even keep that story straight.

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John Smith
6 years ago
Reply to  Yeah right

You made me think twice about what I did. I thought her parents would help her, but if a victim is not ready they are not ready and you can’t force them to be. They put their stories out at a pace that was comfortable for them. I could have done more, but it may not have helped the victim if the timing wasn’t right. But we were able to offer her the chance, she just wasn’t able to speak up yet. I just came here to tell an experience I had with Coach as a young child. Take for it what you can.

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G
6 years ago

It really is a shame the manner in which this article was written and published, which in reality borders on slander. When you publish an unfinished story, you leave a gaping whole for speculation and biased response. Definitely would expect better from a leading organization in our community.

Anyone who knows the man and knows his accuser is well aware that these accusations are completely baseless.

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NE Swim Mom
6 years ago
Reply to  G

Wait, what’s this about a coverup? You mean Joe’s son was banned and Joe Sr. Covered it up? This is getting very interesting.

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Yet Another NE Swim Mom
6 years ago
Reply to  NE Swim Mom

Joe’s son had an inappropriate, sexual relationship with a teenage girl on the team, back when my kids were Bernal’s Gators. They were friends with that girl. The Bernals put the onerousness on her, disparaged her involvement with it, implied she was promiscuous, etc. She was a victim for sure. Stories of bedroom behavior were talked about regularly over our time with the team, but less vague was the verbal and mental abuse that occurred on deck, in locker rooms, at meets. It seems to have finally caught up with the Bernals, and yes a sad way to end a career but likely a deserved one.

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Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  NE Swim Mom

Yet Another NE Swim Mom – 100% truth.

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NE COACH
6 years ago

The fact that this many people are just assuming the victim is a liar makes me sick. Everyone in NE heard the rumors for years. It’s not a single accusation or accuser as the documented abuse happened a number of times over close to a decade (2002-2010). All of these accusations are false? Please. The lack of empathy in this comment section is disgusting.

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anon
6 years ago
Reply to  NE COACH

Thank you so much for speaking up. You are so right.

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Yeah right
6 years ago
Reply to  NE COACH

Please, oh wise anonymous NE swimming coach, tell us how you became privy to such detailed information regarding these hearings.

My guess is that you’re just another hack who was out-coached by Bernal for years and now wants to get in on bashing him and acting like you knew all along (yet did nothing).

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Blueberry Coyote
6 years ago

Mr. Rutemiller, as a journalist, your duty is to report what you know about the swimming world with hard facts. That is what we expect of all journalists, and that at least was done in this article (cannot say the same for the comments, but that is not what I am focusing on at the moment).
Having now heard your comments to Fox News, I now question your legitimacy as a journalist.
“I don’t think they are accusations. USA Swimming would not ban somebody unless they had proof and a victim came forward.”
It is not your duty to judge Coach Bernal as guilty with statements that begin with “I don’t think”. Using the opportunity to slander a person on a credible, widely-viewed news network without any of your own evidence is despicable for anyone to do, let alone someone who dedicates his time to “inform” the public about the swimming world.

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Blueberry Coyote
6 years ago

To clarify, Brent Rutemiller is the publisher of Swimming World, not the author of this article.

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Stanley
6 years ago

This is basic reporting. Not libel. He’s reporting that USA Swimming has banned him, citing the code of conduct violation. There’s nothing libelous about this in the least. While I don’t know Bernal or the victim, the tone we take with victim shaming is quite sad.

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Not Victim Shaming
6 years ago
Reply to  Stanley

You are right that this article is merely reporting facts. Unlike another swimming news site that will not be named, swimmingworld deserves credit for not publishing unsubsantiated rumors. However, as Blueberry Coyote pointed out, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Rutemller said, “I don’t think they are accusations. USA Swimming would not ban somebody unless they had proof and a victim came forward”.

That certainly seems like irresponsible speculation on his part, especially given the lack of transparency in USA Swimming’s disciplinary process. USA Swimming has had bans overturned in the past, so it’s ridiculous to pretend that their rulings are somehow infallible.

Regarding your comment on victim shaming, it is important to keep in mind that, when an accusation is made, there is also the possibility that someone is may be a victim of a false accusation. Until we know all the facts, it is irresponsible to refer to skepticism as “victim shaming”.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

I swam for Coach for 12 years and he was like a father to me. The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach (in either direction) and the extent to which many of you are making statements as facts or even strong suggestions in either direction is pretty disgusting. These are people’s lives we are talking about. Both Coach and the alleged victims. Have some decency and recognize that you don’t know any details. It is unbelievable to see the lack of compassion on both sides in this thread when in actuality, none of you have any clue as to what is going on, because none of this is public. US Swimming is not a court and neither are any of you who are making statements with such conviction (on both sides).

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6 years ago

It’s about time. That entire team has issues. that’s one club I would not invite to any event the I would host. Kid’s are rude and entitled. .

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Jacob
6 years ago
Reply to  Tycam

Your perception of their kids being rude and entitled could not be further from the truth. I swam against them all the time for 11 years and their kids were absolute model citizens for how to behave on and off the pool deck. Don’t know if that is a tribute to the coach or not, but it is certainly a tribute to the athletes who are able to thrive in such a rigorous program nowadays.

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Yet Another NE Swim Mom
6 years ago
Reply to  Jacob

Jacob, I echo your comments about the swimmers being very strictly and consistently trained to be respectful on deck, to their opponents, to everyone, home meets and away. As a parent that attended many, many meets, worked at them, chaperoned, etc. I never heard any complaints of rude behavior by BGSC swimmers.

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Idiot
6 years ago
Reply to  Tycam

As someone who swam for Coach, I can say we were never rude or entitled and if we ever acted in a way that embarrassed the team we would have been in for a rude awakening. Sounds like you’re bitter that you were out coached and your swimmers were out-trained.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Idiot

Your comments proved his point. As a former member of gators, I remember gator kids stealing competitors caps and t-shirt at swim meets as trophies. I also remember having hotel security being called on us repeatedly. Far from model citizens. That being said, other teams weren’t much different.

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Just the Facts
6 years ago
Reply to  Idiot

Mr. Saulnier, are you kidding me? My children swam for the team for 7 years and I was a chaperone on multiple travel trips. Hotel security being called repeatedly? It was not tolerated for any swimmer to misbehave or treat any hotel employee disrespectfully. On the trips I chaperoned, the kids were in their rooms at night right after dinner and we went from room to room to check. I had hotel personnel come up to me and tell me that they were so impressed by the Gator Swimmers and would have them back any time. Stole competitors caps or t-shirts as trophies at swim meets? Not that I witnessed and actually Gator swimmers had a lot of pride and wouldn’t have wanted another team’s shirts. I’m sorry you had a bad experience with the team but what you say happened when you were there did not happen when my children were on the team in much more recent years than your tenure.

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Just the Kool-Aid
6 years ago
Reply to  Idiot

Just The Facts-

That’s like someone saying their parent’s never slept with each other because in all the years they grew up in the house, they never witnessed it.

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swimlife
6 years ago
Reply to  Idiot

“Stealing” competitor caps, tshirts etc (Trading) is a tradition in USASwimming.

Clearly “Just the Facts” didn’t know the traditions or see everything.

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John Downy
6 years ago
Reply to  Tycam

Totally agree, everyone loved these kids. We really looked forward to them staying at our hotel in Fort Lauderdale every year.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  John Downy

No, I am not kidding. It happened. I was there. I participated in some of it. I also remember gator swimmers turning the rubber mats over at Blodgett to watch the old people hurt their feet as they walked on it. My point is that they (we) were not angels. It is delusional to think all kids are perfect all the time. But that’s not what we’re discussing. It is also delusional to think Joe bernal was perfect all the time I can 100% tell you that he was not. He put on a good show and fooled lots of people lots of the time. This is my personal experience. Not hearsay. Sorry if my experiences with gators didn’t match yours.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

Andrew,
I have been reading your comments and I have to speak up. What you are describing as to the behaviors of the Gator swimmers could describe the behaviors of any individual within any team, in any town, in any country and yet you have used this to draw a not so thinly veiled connection to somehow being correlated with fostering an environment that would also allow sexual abuse to occur.

Were we cocky? Absolutely. Did we love winning and have a swagger? You bet. Did we love the fact that every other team in NE hated us because we kicked their a$$ and there was nothing they could do about it? You better believe it. And did Coach promote this swagger and yes a bit of arrogance that got under every team we beat? Without a doubt. But, did all of New England also line up as Gator Haters and do what they could to try to tear us down? Yes they did. But, you know what? They still couldn’t touch us. I could frankly care less if you found it hard to feel part of this, but it was incredibly special for those of us who were. And, what you are describing as such horrific experiences are nowhere near the same thing as sexual abuse. While you make these lame caveat statements that you are “not the accuser”, you are effectively making accusations at the same time. What you have described has nothing to do with rape and sexual misconduct, so why are you using this as a forum to work out your past issues with the team? Perhaps you do need to work out those issue with a therapist, because it seems like to me that you have been waiting 30 years to vent and are now looking to pile on in a way that is completely unrelated to this case and you finally have your voice. Good for you. You now have your moment. So lame. You come off sounding like a kid who was not picked for a kickball team.

I’ll say the same thing I said before. Not a single person in this thread knows what happened unless someone here is the actual accuser. Stop using this as a forum to work out your own issues because we are talking about people’s lives here.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Always a gator,
Nice try trying to make me look like the bad guy or the guy who needs therapy. A classic reaction from someone who doesn’t want to know the truth. You don’t want to belive your hero could behave the way he is being accused. My comments are reactions to people stating that the kids were respected, not rude courteous etc. I completely agree with your description of them. And I mentioned that other teams weren’t much better. People were stating that gator kids were “perfect” as a reflection of bernal’s abilities as a coach were just false. I even said in one post that this isn’t about the kids. It’s about bernal. And I haven’t waited 30 years to vent. This is the first time you’ve heard me vent. In fact, Michelle bernal threatened to sue me years ago for my private commentary on my Facebook page. In fact, I am not venting. I am simply discrediting all those who think bernal was without flaws. Perhaps some saw no flaws, but I did. That’s all I’m saying. He was a great coach to many, but not to all. He was respected as a coach to his peers, but many of his actions were not respected. Nor were some decisions he made in his personal life respected. I know what it’s like to have my hero, my mentor as a kid be exposed for making bad decisions. JT Trembly was my coach in high school. The difference is that I didn’t ignorantly defend him. JT was a great coach and great guy to me. But he had significant flaws that I never saw. Just like bernal is to you. At least JT didn’t flee the country when accusations started happening. We can coward to the list of descriptions of bernal. I also find it interesting that I am the only one listing my entire name on this blog. What do you have to hide? I stand by my statements as true. Is it that you don’t want your name attached to defending an accused pedophile?

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

Read my comments. I’m not defending Bernal, I’m defending the team. I have said in all my comments that I don’t know what happened and that I out of respect for the alleged victims and without any public court hearing, out of respect for Bernal, I will withhold judgment. I am defending the team against your bashing it at the same time you are saying – “well other kids were that way as well” is like saying, “no offense, but you’re ugly” as if you can inoculate the statement with a caveat. I’m defending the entire Gator team for you trashing it, because you had a bad experience and suggesting you look in the mirror as to why you are trying to throw an entire team under the bus for that experience.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Always a gator,
Are your really this dumb or are your purposefully try to twist my word and take things out of context? I never said the gator kids were bad. I simply said they were typical. I was refuting other’s comments that gator kids were perfect kids. They weren’t. No team had perfect kids. Especially if I was one of them!

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Just the Facts
6 years ago
Reply to  John Downy

Mr. Saulnier, I can attest to you that between the years 2006 and 2014 when my children were on the team, the kids were very well behaved and would not have dared do anything to hurt someone else. I also chaperoned numerous travel trips and witnessed their behavior. As for Coach Bernal, I know that he was a tough coach. My son had his struggles with Coach as well. However, in this case, I know the accuser quite well and I know that she lied about some of the accusations specifically with events that myself, son and daughter would have witnessed if they happened. My son provided signed testimony to refute what she said. If Coach Bernal was guilty of inappropriate behavior towards his female swimmers over the years, it wasn’t with this particular swimmer. If he is sanctioned it should be for something he did do and not something that did not happen.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Just the Facts

Your logic is flawed. Because you and your son never saw anything he did that was bad does not mean he never did anything bad. Because my family experienced bad things first hand 100% proves bad things happened. I challenge you and all the others supporting this alleged pedophile to post your real names. It’s easy to makes statements anonymously , true or not. Stand up for your comments. Post your real name as someone supporting this alleged pedophile. As hard as it is, your hero is flawed. Perhaps very flawed.

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Just the Facts
6 years ago
Reply to  John Downy

Ok Mr. Saulnier, I’m starting to wonder if you are actually reading the posts. I didn’t say he didn’t do anything bad nor did I say he was a my “hero”. Please don’t put words in my mouth. The reason I am using “just the facts” is that facts are what matters to me most. What I said regarding my son and daughter was that she lied about events relating to us and SHE brought us into it. What she told USA Swimming was not true. Regardless of what I think or not think about Coach Bernal, I will not be party to a lie. Also, I didn’t say that Coach Bernal was perfect or never did anything wrong. I could go into detail the experience my son had with him but it is his personal story and is up to him to divulge if he wants. He was on the verge of quitting multiple times but he chose to stay. That was his choice. As for Coach Bernal’s life time ban, if you read again what I said, I said he may have behaved inappropriately with female swimmers in the past as some have suggested, however he did not behave inappropriately with THIS swimmer. If he did not behave inappropriately with her then she should not be the reason he is banned. Let other people who feel wronged by him come forward if they are out there who can tell the truth and provide corroborating evidence. If he is to be banned, it should be because someone came forward who is actually telling the truth.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Just the Facts

Fair enough.

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A
6 years ago

I coached at another USS swimming club in Massachusetts for a years and am honestly surprised it took 20 years for this to come out. Anyone with any sense of what the boundaries between swimmer and coach should be would have spotted this a mile away.

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Yet Another NE Swim Mom
6 years ago
Reply to  A

very true. It was lurking in the background for a long, long time. The Bernals had entitled, inappropriate and mean streaks as people and coaches. Can’t speak to sexual misconduct by Coach, but yes by his son, another one-time Bernal’s Gators coach.

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6 years ago

I beg people…please ,do not hit the like button. Any other one but the like button. This is terrible news for all involved. Not something to be liked. Angry would be a good one. Wow is ok too. Personally, I’m extremely disappointed that another swim coach has done something to hurt someone, shame someone, destroy some. A child.

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6 years ago
Reply to  Brian Cameron

I second that Brian. So sickening and shocking.

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6 years ago

So will ASCA be revoking his Hall of Fame recognition?

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6 years ago

I didn’t go to Harvard bc he was the coach!!

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Blueberry Coyote
6 years ago

Oh is that the reason?

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6 years ago

WOW! What’s this all about?

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6 years ago

Wow. No words.

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6 years ago

Slightly biased headline. “… Legend..” ?¿?¿?¿?¿?¿?????

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6 years ago

It’s demonstrably true.

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6 years ago

Perv

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6 years ago

?????

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6 years ago

Jonas Iver

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Reuben Blueberry
6 years ago

Rape culture is alive and well, it appears. I suppose all of you throwing unwavering support spent every last waking moment with this man, and knew everything he did behind closed doors. So sorry your privileged memories may have to be put into a different light. How inconvenient for you as others have to live the rest of their lives out with this violation from a man who many of you continue to give a pass to as “untouchable.” You need to realize that this is how predators work. You continue to play into his plan, and continue to be the reason why assault and rape go unreported. I agree we all need more details, but to suggest there is “no way” your beloved coach could have been a predator is disingenuous and continues a cycle of abuse to minors by people in power positions.

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Blueberry Betty
6 years ago

Well said. Thank you.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

Man, Andrew. That’s a lot of anger. I really do think you should go work that out with a therapist…

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Always a gator,
Not anger. Frustration from ignorant and misguided people like you. What’s your real name? Too cowardly to post it?

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Sad
6 years ago

It’s funny Michelle Bernal is mentioned for trying to sue someone, huh? She is a sad woman who thought BGSC was her birthright. Heartbreaking to hear that it was his daughter who led this sick girl into thinking this would be worth it.

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Not True!
6 years ago
Reply to  Sad

So very not true!! Stop trying to spread untrue rumors. She did not sue her father. Apparently they did have a falling out and no longer coached with him but that is it. Sad that people are trying to lay blame on other people, USA Swimming, etc.. when the person who did the inappropriate was Joe Bernal and not anyone else. His actions, his repercussions. Sad that Joe acted inappropriately and lost his team and legacy. Unfortunate for many people. Let’s not forget the victim and everyone who has been effected by Joe’s actions and this outcome.

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Eyeroll
6 years ago
Reply to  Not True!

Whatever you say michelle

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Not True!

Not sure if Michelle tried to sue her dad, but I did mention on an earlier post that she did threaten to sue me because of a Facebook post to my personal page. It was an empty threat laced with expletives and incoherent thought. Perhaps my earlier post was misread. This was many years ago. Just want to set the record straight.

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Not True!
6 years ago

I am not Michelle. I would imagine that she is hurt by this too, it is her father and his legacy. It is amazing to me that so many continue to support Joe given this news and lay blame on others.

Ruben Blueberry great post!

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Begbie
6 years ago
Reply to  Not True!

If you are not Michelle, then I guess you won’t care when that video of you and your munchkin burning the Gator-A shirt over an open flame eventually gets posted.

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M
6 years ago
Reply to  Begbie

I’ve been wondering how no one mentioned that yet…another classy move by Michelle. Sounds like she is really hurting.

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Begbie
6 years ago
Reply to  Begbie

I guess I’d be upset too if I were in my 40s and my parents decided to stop paying my phone bills. Life’s hard, yo

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Charlotte
6 years ago

Why did he leave Harvard? Seems like college coaching is what most age group coaches aspire to. I wonder if Harvard knew something? Lots of sexual abuse cases from many years ago now resurfacing at New England prep schools.

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Blueberry Coyote
6 years ago
Reply to  Charlotte

Coach Bernal made the decision to resign from his position at Harvard so he could focus more on training Olympic-bound athletes.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

It is incredible how many of these posts are listed as fact with clearly no actual knowledge. Bernal was fired at Harvard after a falling out with the women’s coach and her husband Bob Scalise, the then AD at Harvard.

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Blueberry Coyote
6 years ago

Is that why he went on to coach two of the Bailey kids, and the Scalise daughter?

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

I don’t know anything about that. I only know what I personally witnessed and was directly in the middle of, unlike practically everyone else on this board.

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Gator Mom
6 years ago

The Scalise mother was also known to be on deck to help out during Gator practices while they were on the team. My son was always excited to have them work together.

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Charlotte
6 years ago

What did he have 2 Olympians in 40 years? (and one that got him the job at Harvard).

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Swim 3057
6 years ago

Just to set the record straight with actual facts, Bob Scalise WAS NOT the AD at Harvard when Joe left. Billy Cleary had just become the AD that year and conducted the search to hire Joe’s replacement. Bob Scalise became Athletic Director several years later.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

All, you are right, it wasn’t Bob Scalise, my bad. It was Jack Reardon, and he was not a fan of Bernal’s at all. Billy Clearly took over for Jack in 1990, and this was one of Jack’s last acts as AD was to fire Coach. There was never any love lost between them, but I can tell you that this wasn’t Coach’s decision.

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Charlotte
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Harvard (Reardon and Cleary) was either smart or lucky to dump this coach. Would not look good for “Worlds Greatest University” to have this tarnish their rep. Unfortunately guys like this tend to have a long history of this behavior. Feel very sorry for the victom(s?).

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stevenjackson
6 years ago

Where did he flee to?

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  stevenjackson

A report that some of his contacts said that he left the country. I’m sure to a non-extradition country like Mexico. He’ll probably meet up with John Trites. (for those with a lack of humor, that was a joke.)

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Enough.
6 years ago

HE NEVER LEFT THE COUNTRY!!!!!!! He left the team FAR before any accusations to get treatment for cancer, in the USA. NEVER LEFT.

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Just the Kool-Aid
6 years ago

Enough-

He left the club in late September. By the first weekend in October it was known around NE Swimming that he had issues with SafeSport. Maybe you folks need to accept that your ‘parent groups’ may not be on top of things like you may think.

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Temmie
6 years ago

Coach Bernal was working closely with the team through now-Head Coach Chris. While the swimmers themselves were never in touch with Bernal, the two coaches maintained constant communication to ensure that the team remained organized and on track with their training schedule.

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Nasus
6 years ago

I’m not surprised to read this about Bernal, I’m only surprised it took this long to come out

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NE COACH
6 years ago
Reply to  Nasus

That’s pretty much everyone’s feeling minus his swimmers. Everyone in NE knew this was going on and it’s become a bit of an epidemic. In the last 3-4 years there have been at least 3 NE coaches banned – all from the same area:

Matt Forrest – SOLO
Lou Rosenfeld – CRIM
Joe Bernal – BGSC

Where does it stop? When does it become more important to protect our kids than be “fast”?

I for one am disgusted by the comments section of this post. We wonder why rape culture and bullying are so prevalent in today’s society – well I don’t. Take a look at yourself and what you are defending.

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OK
6 years ago
Reply to  NE COACH

Pathetic that it is automatically an issue with the coach. The process is extremely one-sided. The accused is never allowed to face their accuser, which is a right that ANYONE would have. Really ridiculous that anyone would think that is okay at all.

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NESM
6 years ago
Reply to  NE COACH

Don’t forget the ANA coach who gave her swimmer OxyContin

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

The story as I know it to be true (believe it if you will – I don’t really care) is that there was a swimmer at Bentley College (21 yrs old) with whom Coach had a relationship. She had swum one season with Gators previously and was therefore considered one of his swimmers, but was not swimming for him while she was at Bentley and when the relationship occurred. This happened a long time ago, but Michelle brought it to USA swimming because of issues over not getting the team, not the athlete herself. You can interpret this however you want, but for me it makes this issue even more complicated. Beyond Bernal, I swam for 3 coaches that are on the banned list, all of whom with actual legal action taken and arrests made for sexual abuse, voyeurism and child porn. These three were all disgusting criminals, pedophiles and derelicts. There is clearly an epidemic in swimming and it is understandable why US Swimming is taking this very seriously (finally), but the specific situation with Coach is very different to me (go ahead, throw me under the bus like you have everyone else who has stuck up for him). I have another coach who married his former swimmer (an adult and after she was done swimming) who is not on the list (nor should he be, but it raised eyebrows for many). I know both Coach and Michelle well and I’d take Coach’s word over hers any day of the week. She is extremely troubled and always has been. I debated posting this because those of you who want to pile on to attack Coach will do so anyway, regardless of any facts about this specific case, but given all of the misinformation out there, I thought it should be said. End of the day, it doesn’t really matter because the majority of you will all draw your own conclusion anyway based on how you perceived the man prior to this happening. The black and white thinking in this country around issues that are highly nuanced goes way beyond this message board. Just look at the Duke Lacrosse team and what allegations did to them before you assume that an accused is always deserving. Given the epidemic of abuse in swimming, we have to take this seriously, but in my view based on what I know, they got this one wrong and a great Coach’s reputation will never recover from it.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Put some legitimacy to your claims/story. What are your sources or personal experiences? What is your name? What years did you swim for bernal? If you can’t or won’t answer these questions, then your dissertation on the subject is completely invalid and irrelevant.

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

I don’t really care if you believe me or not. I’m not sharing my name because I have seen how mob mentality works on these things and how people can demonize the innocent on a topic that is this sensitive. I’m just putting what I know to be the truth on this specific topic and you are sharing your autobiography.

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KVM
6 years ago

Haters gonna hate. Its patently obvious your underperformance v. expectation during your BGSC time has negated any semblance of your objectivity.

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Not True!
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

Always a Gator, most all of your facts are not true. If you want to throw out such false things put up your real name as Andrew stated. The victim turned in Joe. So many posts keep blaming others and USA Swimming besides Joe. Joe is banned due to his actions. Also I believe family members are not allowed to turn in family members to USA Swimming, the victim turned him in. And I must say, you had a horrible run of bad coaches, sorry!! But you can now include Joe on your personal list of banned coaches.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago

I thought so. You are a coward, and likely a liar. Perhaps bernal and Trites have a spare bedroom for you at their secret foreign getaway if you ever get accused of something. You can run too!

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

And to think that I would be concerned about being demonized. With every post, you just further prove my points. Thanks for that.

Signed,

I must be a coward and liar because Andrew Saulnier called me one…

Let me know when you are ready for that anger management therapy referral…

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

It’s not me calling you a coward and a liar. It’s your actions that are cowardly and likely a liar. I’m simply pointing this out so other don’t believe you either. Again, no anger here. Just calling a coward a coward and a liar a liar. I don’t need therapy, calling you out makes me feel better!

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Always a Gator
6 years ago

You apparently haven’t been using this internet thing very long. Just from your posts, references to JT and 5 minutes searching publically available info, I know where you went to school (high school, prep school and college), where you live now, what you do, etc. We don’t live in a time where it is smart to be that public on a public site. I would never do anything with that or share it in a public setting, but I’m a nice guy who gives people the benefit of the doubt. Based on your posts and the extent to which you have attacked everyone you have disagreed with, you don’t seem like a very nice guy (and frankly like a bit of a crackpot) and so no, I am not that inclined to put my public info out there given this world of hackers, crackpots and idiots. So, if that makes me a coward – then in the words of my fellow coward, the cowardly lion, “You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself”.

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Andrew Saulnier
6 years ago
Reply to  Always a Gator

I am not a coward and I am not a liar. (probably why I had a bad experience at bgsc. I didn’t put up with Trites’ or bernal’s crap.) I have nothing to hide. And I stand by my statements and stories as true. I swam with bernal in the early 80’s. I just don’t want cowards and liars like you to affect other people’s thoughts on the subject . regardless if he is guilty of this current accusation, he was still a bad and immoral person. I experienced it. I’m not going to waste anymore time with you. You’re hopeless.