One of the most revealing passages in the Washington Post article details who Kelly Currin told. One person included Bill Bullough, the founder of Rockville Montgomery Swim Club. A passage below:
'“We provided her an opportunity to get back and swim and support her,” Bullough said Saturday. “We did hear [about a sexual relationship] from her. It was none of our business. She wasn’t all that comfortable [talking about it]. It was a big step for her to say, ‘I’d like to swim, but I can’t go back to that guy.’ "
Currin reportedly also told a teammate, the late Richard Quick, and claims that Pete Morgan, currently at Curl Burke, had direct knowledge of the relationship. It's clear from Bullough's response that he acted decidedly "old school" in this situation. USA Swimming's mandatory education packet for coaches makes it pretty clear that it's not acceptable to say "it's none of our business" anymore when it comes to allegations of abuse.
Curl-Burke swim club issued a fairly swift statement in response. The response is just as important for what it says as what it does not say. Let's take out a few pieces:
"Pete Morgan will assume the role of Head Coach of the Curl Burke Swim Club"
That's the same Pete Morgan who Currin claims knew of the relationship and did nothing, although Morgan denies that. Is Curl-Burke satisfied that Morgan did not know? If the USA Swimming panel does discover that the allegations are true, will Curl-Burke revisit this decision?
The rest of the statement includes generalities about Curl-Burke coaches taking part in education as part of both the national USA Swimming program and an LSC educational course. It concludes with:
"This article is painful for our Club and Rick Curl personally"
Missing from this statement is Mrs. Currin, although I guess to say that just the "article" was painful for her would be a grave understatement. As the day pressed on, Currin felt like she had to elaborate. She released a statement in the late afternoon. She stated pretty strongly that she was upset with USA Swimming's handling of the case. She accused USA Swimming of lying about when they knew about the report.
Finally, this morning, USA Swimming responded. It appears membership can still count on them to double down on stupid. In it, they admit that their third party investigator has had the confidentiality agreement since April. Somehow USA Swimming would like you to believe that without seeing the agreement or really knowing what was in it, they simultaneously advised Currin to seek legal counsel before sending it to them, and somehow that legal counsel advised her not to forward it on.
On the one hand, I can't believe that in the wake of a national and unavoidable story (Penn State), USA Swimming and Curl-Burke Swim Club could still come off so tone deaf on this issue. Why, if as so many people have pointed out, you can't be compelled to keep something illegal confidential, could so many people fail to point this out to the victim? Why do statements from both USA Swimming and Curl-Burke show far more interest in protecting themselves than victims of sexual abuse?
The answer lies in the imbalance that remains. When I spoke with Chuck Wielgus in December, he wanted desperately to discuss what he considered his legacy as Executive Director of USA Swimming. He felt he had brought the sport from small time to big time. I could see it from afar at Olympic Trials. He looked like a proud papa watching Omaha unfold. After all, few would have predicted in the mid 90s that trials would fill a big arena. A body blow similar to the one the NCAA delivered to Penn State would destroy most, if not all, of that legacy.
In Curl-Burke's case, they are one of the most powerful and influential clubs in America. When I said I was writing this blog, a friend urged me not too. "Don't want any more recruits from Curl-Burke?" is what he said. While that statement may seem ludicrous, the sentiment is real. There is real fear in the swimming community to speak out at times like these, and that is how I know we still have so far to go. There is also indifference. To date, no major current athlete or coach has spoken out on this issue, and I doubt any will at the Olympic games. There will even be those who suggest that writing about this with the Olympics approaching is inappropriate, as if any competition is more important. I will know we've made it as a sport when a critical mass of powerful people in swimming shift their belief from "none of my business" to being advocates for the health and well-being of everyone involved.