Accusations in Mark Schubert/GWSC Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Go Well Beyond The Pool

  48 SwimSwam | September 17th, 2012 | Featured, National, News

One of swimming’s most celebrated coaches, Mark Schubert, is being sued for wrongful termination by a former employee, Coach Dia Rianda, in Orange County, California.  The lawsuit alleges Rianda was fired because she continually alerted Schubert to “inappropriate behavior” by William (Bill) Jewell, a “volunteer assistant” at Golden West Swim Club (GWSC) – where Schubert is currently the head coach after serving a stint as the USA Swimming National Team Director.

The complaint is layered with additional allegations. Many of the coaches named have ties to some of the biggest names in coaching and their allegeded inappropriate behavior, Sean Hutchison of FAST, and Rick Curl of Curl Burke (now CUBU). Hutchison, who headed the Elite Training Program at FAST, has been cleared of any wrong doing by USA Swimming. Curl, who is alleged to have sexually abused Kelley Davies (now Currin) in the 1980s, is under investigation by USA Swimming. Curl’s hearing is set for September 19th.

The complaint is set to be filed by attorney Robert Allard, the same attorney who is representing Currin in her case, and the Golden West Swim Club and Mark Schubert are named as defendants.

Tim Joyce of WBAL broke this story, and according to his report, “Rianda claims that Schubert, on three separate occasions, tearfully told her that he could have done more for Currin but didn’t.”  Schubert coached Kelley Currin at the University of Texas, and, according to Rianda,  Currin told Schubert what Curl had done to her.  Later, when Schubert was the USA Swimming National Team Director, he “made it known to Rianda that he did tell Chuck Wielgus and others at USA Swimming headquarters about Curl’s abusive behavior.” 

While USA Swimming is still reviewing the documents, they did release the following through a spokesperson: “USA Swimming cannot comment on ongoing investigations. However, as a matter of process, when USA Swimming initiates a coach investigation, it immediately notifies the employing club.  As per the Amateur Sports Act, membership status cannot be affected without the opportunity for a hearing. Employment decisions during investigations are at the discretion of the employing club.”

For a simple wrongful termination case, this suit is rife with accusations, and it’s the broader sex abuse scandal plaguing USA Swimming and the central players involved that continues to generate headlines. The case seems to serve to tie together many of the major stories related to sexual abuse and swimming in the last two years,  even though the common thread is through an employment lawsuit.

Rianda was simply concerned about assistant coach Jewell’s behavior toward female swimmers. She claims that she brought to Schubert’s attention over and over, and that Schubert’s reaction was to fire her. But Jewell is more than an assistant coach. During Hutchison’s tenure at Fullerton Aquatics, Jewell was the CEO of FAST.  This program was the west coast training program for USA Swimming’s elite post graduates.  In sum, Jewell is a carreer coach, aquatics director, and a pillar of the community.

Rianda is also a well-respected coach and a generous philanthropist who has donated more than $100,000 to the USA Swimming Foundation. Whatever the outcome of this suit, the names and allegations involved will rock the foundation of the sport: either to the affirmative for the athlete safety initiatives, or to the negative.

Joyce’s full report from WBAL can be seen here.

Comments

  1. NONA says:
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    yeesh. Where is the bottom of this problem? I feel like it keeps getting deeper.

  2. JB says:
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    Where does it stop? Does everyone have a skeleton (or in some cases a graveyard) in their closet?

  3. Josh says:
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    Rianda’s reputation is peerless. This is not going to end well for USA Swimming. Wielgus needs to be deposed immediately.

    • Korn says:
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      Not sure why Chuck needs to be fired!? These allegations are against Schubert and Jewell! I think Mark should give back his money back in his suit agst USA Swimming!
      Now we know now why Jewell got fired at FAST!?!?

      • 2swim2 says:
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        It’s not saying Chuck needs to be fired; he needs to be interviewed by the lawyers before he can alter the messy story in any way by conferring with the other swim coaches. The prosecutors don’t want to give anyone time to come up with fabricated timelines and story lines.

        • Jcoach says:
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          Hasn’t chuck – under oath – denied knowing anything about the Rick Curl allegations? If so, couldn’t he be in some legal trouble? I’m afraid this is not the end of the story, and the wrongful termination suit is just a means to Allard’s end.

      • candle says:
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        If the accusations in the lawsuit prove to be true, Chuck should absolutely be fired. Ignoring accusations of abuse by coaches and authorizing a payoff to MS is disgusting and reprehensible. Actually, there is no need to wait because where there is smoke there is fire and Chuck has been smoldering much too long. Time for him to go…

      • Jcoach says:
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        from another article:
        “Subsequently, as part of his own $625,000 settlement with USA Swimming, Schubert promised that:

        “he would not publicly speak about any sexual abuse issues in general, including what he knew about Kelley Currin, Rick Curl and USA Swimming’s knowledge of same.”

        Wow – I guess Chuck and others at USA swimming knew about Rick Curl before the week before the Olympics.

    • baxter says:
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      yes, i think this all ends exactly where Desantis has suggested….

  4. zzz says:
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    It’s interesting that the Clary’s made a complaint at FAST. Jill Chassons’ (National Board of Review) husband is on the Board of Directors of FAST. Tyler Clary has been on the Board of Directors of Southern California Swimming since the beginning of 2011. Stacy Clary (Tylers’ mother) had been a long time member of the Board of Directors of Southern California Swimming until the end of 2011.
    If all of these people knew of complaints at FAST, why was Jewell allowed to move on to another team?

  5. Swimsutra says:
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    We used to stand sideways bent over to refrain from mark’s halitosis after races. He broke several athlete’s dreams during his path to success. People don’t print those stories. Lenny Krazelberg, his greatest swimmer, fired him by fax.

  6. WHOKNOWS says:
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    Did someone mention Misson Bay?

  7. anonymous says:
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    Unless I missed it, is there a given timeline of when all this happened? How long have people known? USA Swimming? Coach Dia? Why wasn’t this brought up earlier? I’m shocked that all this was kept quiet and that those accused of such actions were allowed to CONTINUE coaching. Also are such non-disclosure agreements legal, especially when the information is so incriminating and puts others at risk?

    (aside):

    this is just from what i’ve read, but it seemed like mark (negatively) played a role in Chloe Sutton’s career…and was essentially the reason she chose to go pro (arguably too early). The whole FAST situation seems to have screwed over the careers of quite a few female swimmers it seems, forcing many to either relocate or train with a coach that doesn’t quite suit their training regimen (Katie Hoff, Kara Lynn Joyce, and others).

    (just thoughts, musings, questions from a swim fan who recently learned about the world of swimming beyond split-times and medal counts).

    • Braden Keith says:
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      Anonymous – speaking only to what is in the official complaint documents, this has all allegedly happened very recently. Sounds like July 11th is the date she was terminated.

    • zzz says:
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      Jewell left FAST in June 2011 along with another coach who had abruptly left his former team.

  8. Brian says:
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    I love how this is all Robert Allard’s involvement. What USA Swimming member stole his toys in first grade? While there is no denying the seriousness of the accusations…the man seems to hold a rather petty grudge/loves to ambulance-chase.

    • jp001 says:
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      If you want to sue someone, and are looking for an attorney, it makes a whole lot of sense to go with someone who already knows the field. In the case of USA Swimming and sex abuse allegations, that person is Allard. You’re not going to have to sit in his office and explain the whole culture of USA Swimming, he already knows it. Saves you time and money.

      • Interesting says:
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        If he really cared, he’d do it pro bono. He’s making his bankroll and striking where he knows he can profit, and possibly make “California Lawyer of the Year” again. Look at his bio on his firm’s page. The man knows how to toot his own horn.

        It’s an unfortunate aspect of the legal world, but you want to talk about a metaphorical rape, talk about attorneys who like to use a victim to deepen their own pocketbooks or further their own agenda.

        Not to mention miles after the fact, and after USA Swimming has implemented a plethora of background check/safety guidelines in the sport.

        It’s like suing Buick in the present for not having seatbelts in the cars back in 1949. They’ve already implemented changes. What else are you looking for besides a payout?

        If he’s truly looking for justice for his victims, then power to him. However, I highly doubt it. Maybe he can represent them pro bono to prove his point that he’s not all about the $$$.

  9. Susan says:
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    Why is USA swimming, involved in all the cover ups, allowed to to the investigating entity in these cases? Aren’t these criminal cases and shouldn’t law enforcement/FBI be brought in to the investigations? Dagny Knutson is another female swimmer who was influenced by Mark Schubert to turn pro and head to FAST. Look what happened to her career and mental health.

    • BS says:
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      I think you are right. If there was actual sexual abuse – a police report should have been filed. Alleged Inappropriate behavior (did not warrant notifying the police) is different and the stories should be titled that way. Sexual Abuse headlines get more attention!

    • Brian says:
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      What does Dagny Knutson have to do with the price of rice in China? Your connection of Mark Schubert influencing her to turn pro and head to FAST and subsequently her eating disorder (which is what I assume you are talking about) due to the pressure and drive – there are some logical fallacies in that thought process.

      (And yes, I agree with the fact that USA swimming shouldn’t be the investigating entity – it can be easily argued that the investigation was done under duress)

      You can’t connect Schubert to that.

      http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/USA/31806.asp?q=Dagny-Knutson's-Journey,-Part-4:-A-World-Champion's-World-Crumbles

      Her career (which is rather successful, overall in the grand scheme of things), and her health, were of mitigating circumstances, many of which could easily be asked – how can anyone foresee all of that?

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        Part of Dagny Knutson’s story will be that Marc Schubert apparently promised USA Swimming would pay for her college education after she turned pro. This is a promise that was rescinded after she checked into treatment.

        Dagny Knutson is strongly tied to this story.

        Ms. Knutson, the entire swimming world is pulling for you and we hope to see you in World Championship form soon. Go get ’em! We believe in you!

  10. CJ says:
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    The center of the ‘good ol’ boys network’ is collapsing……oh no!! Who else has been protected?

  11. swimdad2012 says:
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    Can we take a step back here with all this cover up payment accusations? I am not saying there was or was NOT a cover up by USA Swimming. However, in most every reasonably sized organziation, when a senior executive gets fired, it usually comes with a severence package as well as the need to sign non-disclosure agreements and not discuss certain senstive topics in public. This is normal. Let’s see how this plays out before we hang anyone.

  12. Doug says:
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    “Rianda is also a well-respected coach and a generous philanthropist who has donated more than $100,000 to the USA Swimming Foundation.”

    Well respected by whom???

  13. Brian says:
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    Question:

    Whatever happened to all the talk about the NDA signed by Currin and her family? For attorneys, even if you feel for the alleged victim, you want to strike at where there is weakness in a proceeding.

    How can one just blatantly violate an NDA and go on with it? What would be the point of even signing them in the first place, if someone can just up and break it at their own volition?

    I just have a question on that, not on other aspects of the case.

    • don says:
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      Correct me of I am wrong (and I am sure someone will) but a NDA is not binding if it was used to cover up an illegal act and unless things have changed, a thirty year old raping a 14 year old is an illegal act.

      • Brian says:
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        But I mean, obviously it was done in a court of law, so why would it even be done in the first place? It sounds like taking a settlement offer and the NDA is binding as such that the recipient of the settlement would not make any public accusations.

        It happens in sexual harassment lawsuits here and there, but I’m curious, because this case seems to throw it all out the window.

        • Kirk Nelson says:
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          What makes you think the NDA was something done in court? I would assume it was an out of court settlement.

          • Brian says:
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            An NDA is a legal document. To have validity it would have to be done in court. Not to mention it was done in return for a monetary settlement…in court. If the information is right.

          • Braden Keith says:
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            Brian – I actually can attest to your prior statement, as I have spent a good deal of time working with contracts. Non-disclosure agreements are just that – agreements or contracts. They do not have to be done in court. I have administered many NDA’s that never went before the court. Like any other contract between private parties, they don’t have to go before the court until one party believes that the other has violated the contents thereof.

            Hope that helps clear up that question.

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    Our theory is that with the Schubert lawsuit, USA Swimming’s “royal family” is sh*tting the bed right now. Schubert has the goods on Wielgus and USA Swimming and is going to talk one way or another. It could be in a deposition or as a settlement of his own lawsuit that was filed against him by Allard’s client. Insiders are telling us that if, or when, this happens, Chuck is going to have no choice but to resign.

  15. Concerned says:
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    I have come away with one conclusion, and I base this on the central goal of justice for all concerned: Allard is a very corrupt man.

    • Korn says:
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      And “Splash of Truth” has a personal agenda against USA Swimming!! Hope I don’t know him…..may never know since he is afraid to give his name!!

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      Concerned,

      It may be just the opposite. Bob Allard may be the person with the best of intentions.

      Chuck Wielgus when asked under oath if USA Swimming had ever sought out the other victims of banned coaches gave an answer very similar to his ABC broadcast “You think I should apologize?”

      Helping victims achieve justice through an open legal process with documented evidence is exactly how it should be done. The fines for legal chicanery have all been levied against USA Swimming’s lawyers.

      Make up your own mind, but consider the facts, not just the emotional view of what we want USA Swimming to be.

      Judge with objectivity based on reality.

      • Brian says:
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        If you want to judge objectively, you can look at Allard, his bio touting his “lawyer of the year” due to his heroic battle against several other attorneys who were prone to all sorts of intimidation, harassment, etc.

        Allard has his cash cow. He’s going to systematically keep reaping it to get the money that goes to him. He sees an easy target and he’ll go for it.

        He wants to show that he’s all about the victim and justice? Do it pro bono.

        I don’t care what happens to USA Swimming, I have no vested interest in the long term. Though I have seen many changes implemented for the better throughout my years as a swimmer that seem definitively aimed at preventing such cases.

        Oh, and he should investigate gymnastics, and track and field. I’m sure the same things aren’t prevalent there at all…I would hazard a guess that USA Swimming has more safeguards in place than they do, and look at all this.

        It’s not either/or, Swimming Exposed. There is corruption in USA Swimming. Allard is also a selfish POS that’s motivated by reputation and money. A majority of lawyers have a huge ego complex. I doubt he’s the exception to the rule.

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    Brian,

    I am not trying to offend you or anyone else. I am going to ask a few rational questions. I hope you will take them as such.

    Do you know Bob Allard’s compensation?

    Would working pro bono make him a better person? Does working for pay make someone a worse person? Do you work pro bono? Always?

    If Allard has been paid, does that make him a bad person? If so, what does that say about Chuck Wielgus making $750,000+ a year?

    Should Allard hide that he won the California Lawyer of the Year award? Should he state that he is just an average lawyer? Even if that is not true?

    If Allard is out of bounds for acknowledging his Lawyer of the Year award, what does it mean when Susan Woessner claims “We have the flagship athlete protection program in Olympic sports?” Who gave USA Swimming that award?

    What I am trying to accomplish is to get people to ask the right questions. One of the most important is “At whose expense?”

    Has USA Swimming repeatedly attempted to minimize, cover up or ignore child sexual abuse by their member coaches? Yes. At whose expense? The children who have been abused.

    Has Bob Allard been paid for addressing USA Swimming’s failures? Maybe. At whose expense? USA Swimming’s… and they pass it along to the membership… whose children continue to be at risk because USA Swimming’s new policies are still inadequate and their enforcement is near nil.

    If USA Swimming’s house was in order, you would never hear of Bob Allard or any other lawyer. Blaming Allard when it is USA Swimming who has failed to protect our children or even honestly address the aftermath of abuse makes no sense. Lashing out at Allard may be the easiest and least honest way to deny our failures as a membership and protect our self esteem. It is also irrational, destructive and wrong.

    Instead of bashing those who show us the failings we do not wish to see, we should be making an effort to improve the governance of the sport. If this leadership group can’t match our expectations, we should seek better. Trust me, we really should seek better.

    Playing “Shoot the Messenger” will always be a poor choice, particularly when the message is true.

    • Brian says:
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      I will throw out a couple answers, I would go through them more thoroughly (when I have a little more time).

      1) I won’t pretend I know Allard’s compensation. What I can guarantee, however, is that he will get a pretty penny on his behalf.

      2) Doing this pro bono, would make him a better person (in my eyes). I would never suggest that I would always work pro bono, since there wouldn’t ever be any way to really profit.

      3) Being paid doesn’t make him a bad person. It’s his repeated efforts to profit from the situation and take advantage of it for his own personal gain.

      4) And I have no problem recognizing your own accomplishments. It’s the way he touted it on his page, giving himself props and making it seem like he fought a battle against all these self-serving, evil lawyers in some grand battle for Mordor. Let’s be real. There were court cases, and he won, it most likely wasn’t half as grandiose as he describes. Lawyering rarely is.

      5) A lot of these cases that are being “brought to light” and thrown against the current governing body, I have questions about. But how can one accuse them of something done that was not under their purview? Society was a lot more trusting and unaware a decade ago. It’s why I suspect the media doesn’t really discuss it much. Doesn’t make it right, but there it is.

      6)”Swimming’s… and they pass it along to the membership… whose children continue to be at risk because USA Swimming’s new policies are still inadequate and their enforcement is near nil.”

      I must ask. For all the hundreds of thousands of swimmers, and multitude of coaches the country over, what sort of policy would you implement that would be able to supervise every single coach, and every single athlete? In this day and age, with so many screwed up people, do you have a good, feasible idea that could actually be implemented? If you don’t, their attempts seem to be the only reasonable efforts to put a stop to any such thing.

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        Brian,

        You obviously have a huge problem with Bob Allard or are using him as a focus for the damage the USA Swimming sex abuse problems are doing to your own self-image. I can’t help you with that.

        With your admission that you don’t know the facts, we must assume that your reaction is based on supposition or emotion. If that is the case, argument would be pointless. I must simply say “I disagree.”

        I appreciate your attempt to answer the questions I posed. They were intended as rhetorical and thought provoking. This was not an attempt at debate. That said, you responded only to the parts of the questions that related directly to Bob Allard while avoiding entirely the implications of applying your stated judgment framework to USA Swimming. This “context dropping” is the debate style of politicians and outfits like CNN and Fox News. It is only effective with people who do not choose to think or investigate. Truthfully, that may mean it works with most people. My younger brother had a sign on his desk once that may be relevant: “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.”

        As I alluded to in my previous post, we tend to react negatively to information that would call into question our own self-image or world view. Most people will latch onto any excuse, no matter how irrational, to protect themselves from having to say, “Wow, I picked the wrong side.” This is natural and a huge factor in understanding why people do the unexplainable. It is a theory called “cognitive dissonance” and it is powerful. Most abusers and manipulative people understand this either explicitly or implicitly. It can, will and is being used against you.

        The first step in dealing with USA Swimming’s abysmal failures is to mentally divorce the sport of swimming (which is awesome) from the entity of USA Swimming (which, at the very top, is a cesspool). When we make that mental leap, we can address the corruption, cover-ups and continuing abuse without poisoning our view of this great sport. We can also recognize the good work that is being done by the many folks at USA Swimming who do truly care.

        As to your comment about better programs, Swimming Exposed is working on greatly expanded proposals for true Athlete Protection. We will provide those. We will also reveal many previously unaddressed flaws and their fixes. No system will catch every predator but there are many serious changes that would increase USA Swimming’s success rate greatly. This is a process that must constantly adapt and evolve. This is an effort that demands questions and critics. We will provide that.

        Child safety should be the absolute, overriding priority of any organization that has supervision of our youngsters. It doesn’t matter if they are 8 or 18. If our children aren’t safe then every other goal is compromised. This is something we must accept and USA Swimming must learn.

  17. cynthia curran says:
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    Well, Mark got his start in swimming because Flip Darr left age group swimming around 1973 and Flip Darr coach later at the early days of Nova. Mark got Shirley Bashashoff, Peggy Tosdel and other national level swimmers from Darr’s Huntington Beach club. If Flip Darr didn’t quit at the time then Mark would not have been the famous coach he was only Brian Goodell started on Mission Viejo in the early years of Mark’s career. Also, Long Beach pick up the Furness brothers-Bruce and Steve at the same time.

  18. WM says:
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    What an amazing blog! So many assumptions, so many implications, so much piss and vinagar, so few actual facts. It will be very interesting to see what actually comes of this case. But there are two truths which will remain regardless of the outcome…Mark Schubert has a long history of being a manipulative prick, and Bill Jewell has a long history of being a creep. Whether either of them engaged in illegal activity remains to be seen, but it’s interesting that by proxy USA Swimming seems to have more on the line here than either of these individuals.

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