Accuser Moran: Banning Ivey Was the Right Thing to Do

by Ceci Christy 13

December 26th, 2013 National, News

On November 21, after hearing evidence of Mitch Ivey’s sexual relationship with 16 year old Suzette Moran and other sexual relationships with teenage swimmers who he coached, the USA Swimming National Board of Review found by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Ivey violated Section 450.1 of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct.  Based upon this ruling, Mr. Ivey received a permanent lifetime ban from membership in USA Swimming.

Ms. Moran did not participate in the hearing, but at our suggestion did speak with Susan Woessner, Safe Sport Director, in June of this year about her relationship with Mr. Ivey.  Based upon that conversation and additional investigation, the hearing went forward last month.  With the ban’s 30-day appeal period ending, I spoke with Ms. Moran about her reaction to the lifetime ban.

“Banning Mitch Ivey was the right thing to do,” Ms. Moran said.  Ms. Moran told us earlier this year that her sexual relationship with Mr. Ivey was consensual and she knew what she was doing when she became involved with him.  She now tells us that upon reflection and with teenage children of her own, “No matter how I felt about it, I was 16 and not old enough to make those decisions.”

After making her public statement this year, Ms. Moran learned that Mr. Ivey was “much more of a problem than she ever wanted to believe.”  She had not been aware that after he was released from his coaching job at the University of Florida in 1993 that he began coaching an all girl high school team at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park, Florida.  At this point in 1993, ESPN’s Outside the Lines had detailed Mr. Ivey’s sexual abuse of his young female swimmers based on interviews with these victims and/or their families.  Even so, USA Swimming, high schools, swim clubs, and colleges continued to allow Mr. Ivey unfettered access to female teenage swimmers.  Learning that Mr. Ivey continued to coach young women at that point fuels her anger at USA Swimming.

This anger intensifies when she reiterates her dismay at USA Swimming’s lack of effort in locating her in 1993 and 2011 given the ESPN episode and the swimming community’s common knowledge of her relationship with Mr. Ivey.  When Ms. Moran called Ms. Woessner in June she raised this issue.

Ms. Moran finally asked the one question no one had answered to her satisfaction:  “Why had no one from USA Swimming found her in 1993 or in 2011 during its first investigation of Mitch?”  She tells us Ms. Woessner told her there were 11 Suzette Morans across the country and USA Swimming did not know which one she was.  While that may have been the case in 2011, Ms. Woessner diligently pursued the investigation after speaking with Ms. Moran in June this year.

Mr. Ivey’s lifetime ban and Ms. Moran’s recognition that this outcome is the appropriate one even though a long time in coming has not diminished her anger over USA Swimming’s lack of earlier investigative efforts into Mr. Ivey.  “USA Swimming should be apologizing for their lack of investigation about” her relationship with Mr. Ivey.  She feels “USA Swimming should be embarrassed, apologetic, remorseful, but they are arrogant.”

Ms. Moran may never receive the reaction she would like from USA Swimming over its lack of pursuing a ban of Mr. Ivey in 1993 or in 2011 or in making a concerted effort to locate her.  In this instance, the complaint and review process eventually did work and remove another sexually abusive USA Swimming coach from the pool deck.  Currently there are almost 100 coaches on the permanently suspended or ineligible list.

And a lesson we can all take away from Ms. Moran is simply this – talk to your children about these types of abusive relationships and behavior that is inappropriate between a child and a coach (or any adult).  While the mechanism is in place for removing sexually abusive coaches from coaching, we can be proactive and hopefully prevent such relationships from beginning. We provide our children with suits and snorkles and fins and nose clips to be successful in the water.  We also can provide them with guidance and tools to be successful in avoiding inappropriate advances or overtures from their coaches or others outside the water.

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9 years ago

The fact that sexual abuse is rampant in USA swimming is a serious crime. More importantly, the administration has known about it and covered it up which makes them just as guilty as these sick coaches. Thirteen year old olympic wannabes are very easy targets for these coaches, and USA swimming has provided a safe and protected environment for them. That anyone is even arguing that Moran knew what she was doing is ludicrous. It is wrong for a coach to have any sexual relationship with an athlete at any age, but teenagers are in no way emotionally mature enough to deal with this. USA swimming will ban a coach when he is criminally convicted or very publicly accused. In… Read more »

9 years ago

Given the level of influence and authority many coaches hold over their athletes, I do not feel that any type of romantic involvement with athletes is ever appropriate. ..even with a swimmer of age.

Too many times I here sexual abuser stories that claim an older teen victim consents to a relationship. The very fact that they would consent speaks volumes about how mentally unprepared they are to enter into such a disproportionately uneven relationship.

J Graham
9 years ago

Hooray! Mitch Ivey was a notorious and well known abuser long before he even got to Florida! Everyone knew what was going on but how stupid were we in the 80s to not stop it? USA Swimming should be on their knees apologizing for not protecting the young swimmers from these pedophiles. Rick Curl was known too, in the swimming community, for doing the same.

9 years ago

I don’t quite understand Ms Moran’s argument. In the 80’s when she was a teenager, she was apparently mature and responsible enough to engage in a relationship with a much older coach. Now that she’s an adult she seems to be a shrinking violet who cannot pick up the phone and call the only Susan Woessner in Colorado Springs, and refuses to participate in the process… and it’s all USAS’s fault. Good riddance Mr. Ivey but Ms. Moran didn’t help.

Reply to  really?
9 years ago

If you read the article, you would see that Ms. Moran DID call Ms. Woessner in June of 2013. And you are blaming the victim, she was do you know that she knew what she was doing? She may have thought it was consensual but he was much older and taking advantage of her.

david berkoff
Reply to  Swimmer
9 years ago

Not condoning ‘blame the victim’, but re-read Ceci’s articles. Ceci wrote in this and prior articles that Moran stated several times that she does not consider herself a victim and that she essentially was a mature girl who knew what she was doing. While I think hindsight might change Moran’s opinion of her ability to make that kind of decision, I think the point “Really” seems to be making is that if Moran claims that she was mature enough to engage in a relationship with Ivey in the 80’s (her words, not mine), why blame Susan Woessner for not contacting her 30 years later and refusing to engage in the complaint process? However, as one of the people who advocated… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  really?
9 years ago

Ya know, she most definitely was not mature & responsible enough back in the 80s for this kind of relationship. Because, teenager. Full stop. No need to keep writing anything.

Glenn H Stephens
Reply to  really?
2 years ago

You are both right and wrong.

Victims of molestation often adopt a version of Stockholm syndrome in which they partially identify with their molester, believing and even advancing the justifications and rationalizations of their molester and/or blaming self.

I first knew Suzette in college. At UCLA and for years after, she not only claimed that their relationship was consensual, but she openly defended Mitch. The best example of this was on ESPN’s Outside the Lines in about 1992.

Over time, partly because of time, partly because we all had a learning curve with molestation in sport, and partly because she became a mother, she moved. 20 years later she moved to advocating his removal.

Should she… Read more »

Steve Nolan
9 years ago

She tells us Ms. Woessner told her there were 11 Suzette Morans across the country and USA Swimming did not know which one she was.

Is this as enraging to anyone else as it is to me? Holy hell, you guys.

It’d be comical, if not so goddamn depressing.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
9 years ago

Are they implying that 11 phone calls was just too much work? I’m with you… This gives a lot of weight to all those who claim USA Swimming’s higher ups are an arrogant group of assistance coverers.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Hulk Swim
9 years ago

Hell, there could have been 11,000 Suzette Morans and they still should have done their best to contact every single one of them.

I’m forgetting the particulars now, but I feel like USA Swimming took a couple years to contact Kelley Currin after she like, publicly came out with stuff. I wonder if there were too many people w/ the same name in that case, too?

Glenn Stephens
Reply to  Steve Nolan
9 years ago

I was married to Suzette and followed Mitch as her partner.

Suzette can’t have it both ways. In private and on the 1993 Outside the Lines, she defended Mitch. She argued, perhaps accurately, that aside from her, his dalliances with swimmers (age of consent or not) were much exaggerated. That Mitch pissed lots of people off and his critics spread these rumors as payback.

It doesn’t dawn on Suzette and her lawyer apparently, that USA Swimming avoided her because she was a source of exculpatory evidence? USA Swimming should have acted long ago (It made Mitch an Olympic Assistance coach in 1988 after his relationship with Suzette ended). So, it finally acted, perhaps pushed by outrage over Rick… Read more »

Kathleen Welker
Reply to  Glenn Stephens
8 years ago

Ditto on Glenn Stephens comments. Allegedly, adults supported the relationship.

Like Mr. Stephens, have followed Coach Ivey’s up and down career because of a decades ago introduction. The Internet made Coach Ivey’s inappropriate behavior available years ago. If you knew of Coach Ivey, you had to know of the alleged violations.

About Ceci Christy

Ceci Christy is the mother of two teenage daughters and has held the proud title of swim mom for nine years. She volunteers extensively at her daughters' swim club in Atlanta. While being a mother is her most rewarding job, Ceci also serves as a pro bono child advocate in …

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