The Korea Herald


Civil suit filed over jailed IN swim coach


Published : Nov. 11, 2011 - 17:16

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The family of an Indiana teenager filed a civil lawsuit against USA Swimming and others Thursday, saying officials didn’t do enough to protect the girl from the sexual assaults by her coach.

The suit, filed in Marion County Superior Court, levels accusations against the umbrella group for U.S. amateur swimming, Indiana Swimming, the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township and others. All are listed as defendants along with Christopher Wheat, the former coach.

Wheat was a coach for the Lawrence Swim team, a club sanctioned by USA Swimming. He was arrested in October 2009 and was jailed after pleading guilty last year to two counts of felony sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of felony child solicitation.

Attorney Jonathan C. Little announces a new sexual abuse lawsuit against USA Swimming and Indiana Swimming in his Indianapolis office, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. (AP) Attorney Jonathan C. Little announces a new sexual abuse lawsuit against USA Swimming and Indiana Swimming in his Indianapolis office, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011. (AP)

Attorney Jonathan Little, who is representing the family, says swimming officials didn’t take action after complaints of inappropriate behavior by Wheat.

USA Swimming, in a statement released Thursday night, said it has not received a lawsuit but denied the claims made by Little.

“To the extent that the attorney has claimed that USA Swimming has a culture of protecting pedophiles, that is categorically untrue,” the statement said. “There is nothing more important to USA Swimming than the safety and well-being of its 300,000 members. For that reason, the organization has developed one of the most comprehensive athlete protection programs among Olympic Sports.”

According to the lawsuit, the girl’s mother called Tony Young, the sports development director for Indiana Swimming, in 2008 to complain of abusive training methods and sexually inappropriate behavior by Wheat with a separate female swimmer. Young allegedly ignored the complaints instead of reporting the incident as required by Indiana law.

“In addition, the attorney’s allegation that USA Swimming had been warned of sexual abuse by Chris Wheat is also untrue,” the statement said. “The first instance that USA Swimming learned about abuse by Chris Wheat was when we were notified of his arrest in October 2009.”

The suit also accused Amanda Juntunen Cox, a swim coach at McCutcheon High School in West Lafayette, Ind., of the same thing. The suit alleges that Wheat and Cox had a text message conversation on Oct. 4, 2009, in which Wheat revealed he had a relationship with the alleged victim.

“But good catch . now put her back in the lake and chalk it up as an experience, smile about it occasionally and upgrade to college,” Cox allegedly texted Wheat, according to the suit.

Cox did not return messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

A number of similar lawsuits have been filed around the country alleging USA Swimming covered up wrongdoing and allowed a culture of abuse to exist in its coaching ranks.

USA Swimming said it investigates misconduct complaints and revokes membership if behavior was inappropriate. It has also banned at least 46 coaches and officials for life, mostly for sexual misconduct.



美수영계에도 `도가니' 파문.. 코치46명 제명

미국 스포츠계의 `도가니 파문'이 수영계로까지 번지고 있다.

미 인디애나 주의 수영클럽에서 활동하던 10대 소녀가 2년 전 코치로부터  성폭 행당한 사건 후 해당 선수의 가족은 관련 조직들이 학생들을 충분히 보호하려는  노 력을 기울이지 않았다며 10일 미 수영연맹과 인디애나 주 수영연맹, 성폭행  당사자 로 유죄판결을 받고 복역중인 코치 등을 상대로 민사소송을 제기했다.

피해자 가족의 변호인은 수영연맹 관계자들이 수감중인 크리스토퍼 휘트 코치가 부적절한 행위를 일삼고 있다는 민원을 접하고서도 이를 심각하게 다루지  않았다면 서 성폭행 사건이 발생한 데는 연맹 측에 책임이 있다고 주장했다.

이에 대해 연맹 측은 성명을 통해 해당 사실을 알게 된 것은 휘트 코치가  체포 된 이후이며 그 이전에는 불미스런 행위에 대해 전혀 알지 못했다고 해명했다.

그러나 미 전역에서는 수영연맹을 상대로 유사한 소송이 잇따르고 있는데  이러 한 소송들은 연맹이 불미스런 사건들을 은폐함으로써 코치들 차원의 성추문이 계속 벌어지게 버려뒀다는 주장을 담고 있다.

미 수영연맹은 현재 연맹 소속의 코치와 관계자 가운데 최소 46명이 영구 제명 처분을 받았다고 밝히고 이들의 혐의 대부분은 성적으로 불미스러운 일과  관련됐다 고 설명했다.

앞서 미 펜실베이니아주립대에서 미식축구부 코치가 10대 소년들을 장기간 상습 성폭행하고 대학당국이 이러한 사실을 알고도 경찰에 신고하지 않은 것으로 드러나 파문이 확산하고 있다.

또 오하이오 주에서는 여성 체육교사가 미식축구팀 소속 학생들과 성관계를  맺 은 것으로 드러나 유죄판결을 받았고 이달 초에는 인디애나주에서 체육교사가  여학 생을 성폭행해 체포되는 사건이 발생했다.