Update: USA Swimming Statement on Involvement in Sean Hutchison, Ariana Kukors Case

Photo Courtesy: Peter H.Bick

In reports from various sources, 2009 World Champion Ariana Kukors alleges that her former coach Sean Hutchison sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and continued to have sexual contact with her until she was 24.

Kukors said Hutchison began grooming her for a sexual relationship when she was 13 while she was a swimmer at KING Aquatic Club in Seattle. Hutchison has not been criminally charged as the investigation is ongoing.

In 2010, USA Swimming received a formal complaint about Hutchison’s alleged “inappropriate” relationship with then 21-year-old Kukors – a full private investigation was then completed by the organization.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Daily News, former U.S. national team director Mark Schubert acknowledged that he reported rumors about the relationship between Hutchison and Kukors to the Washington Post in December 2010.

At the time, no evidence of such relationship was found. On Feb. 14, 2011, the following statement was released:

“We value the well-being of all of our members and false statements or rumors can be extremely detrimental to our athlete protection efforts,” said Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s Athlete Protection Officer. “We want to encourage those with credible and specific information to always come forward, and those who would spread false rumors disrespect this effort.”

However, according to USA Swimming the organization recently sent the 2010 case file to the Center for Safe Sport after hearing of the new investigation regarding Hutchison in January 2018. According to the statement, Kukors’ recent public statement was the first time that USA Swimming was made aware that she had been sexually abused as a minor.

According to the new statement from USA Swimming,

“During the USA Swimming investigation, both Ariana and Hutchison, as well as Ariana’s sister, Emily, unequivocally denied the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship.
 
“With the denials from both parties, the investigation provided no basis to conclude that a Code of Conduct violation occurred, and the case was closed. Hutchison left coaching shortly thereafter but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of a member club based in Seattle.”
The organization also said that they stand by Kukors in coming forward and will support her throughout this process.

Read the full statement from USA Swimming below:

“Ariana Kukors’ recent public statement marked the first time USA Swimming learned of the allegations that Sean Hutchison sexually abused Ariana when she was a minor. Our hearts go out to Ariana and the difficulty she has gone through to reach this point of disclosure. We fully support her in her case for answers and justice and applaud her courage in sharing her story in an effort to empower victims and protect athletes.
 
“In 2010, USA Swimming became aware of a rumored relationship between Hutchison and then 21-year-old Ariana via a third-party. Based on the information, USA Swimming retained an independent private investigator and conducted a full investigation into the rumor and the possible Code of Conduct violation.
 
“During the USA Swimming investigation, both Ariana and Hutchison, as well as Ariana’s sister, Emily, unequivocally denied the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship.
 
“With the denials from both parties, the investigation provided no basis to conclude that a Code of Conduct violation occurred, and the case was closed. Hutchison left coaching shortly thereafter but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of a member club based in Seattle. 
 
“In January 2018, USA Swimming was notified of a Center for Safe Sport case regarding Hutchison and we have proactively sent over the 2010 case file to aid their investigation and support in any possible way.
 
“Over the last several years, Ariana has worked with USA Swimming as on-camera talent in its digital productions and has truly become a member of the family. We stand by her, and all other victims, in their quest to break their silence and confront their horrific experiences.”
4 Comments

4 comments

  1. Oline Stehr

    Thank You for your bravery Ariana! Hopefully this sheds more light on the investigative process. Someone’s denial does not mean its not happening..it usually means they’re scared!

    • André Costa Silva

      Denial means being scared? That’s completely false and ignorant.
      Does someone’s allegation make it true in principle? Are you aware of burden of proof?

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Author: Diana Pimer

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Diana Pimer was a breaststroke/IMer at Keene State College and is the NEISDA Conference record holder in the 200 IM. She is currently an Age Group Coach at AGUA in New York City and has covered major competitions for Swimming World including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, 2015 and 2017 FINA World Championships, USA Swimming Nationals and more.

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