Olympian Ariana Kukors Accuses Former Coach Sean Hutchison of Sexual Abuse

2012 Olympian Ariana Kukors says Sean Hutchisonher former coach, began sexually abusing her at the age of 16.

Kukors, now 28, came forward with the abuse allegations this week, claiming that Hutchison began “grooming” her at the age of 13 and sexually abusing her at 16, according to a press release from Kukors’ attorney. Hutchison first began coaching Kukors at the King Aquatic Club in Seattle when she was 13.

Hutchison coached Kukors when she made the U.S. National Team as a teen – first the Pan Pacific Championships in 2006 and Worlds in 2007. From 2009 to late 2010, Hutchison headed up a “Center of Excellence” pro training hub in Fullerton, California, a short-lived program under the banner of FAST, or Fullerton Area Swim Team. His training group included Kukors, then an adult, along with several other high-profile professional swimmers. That group rapidly disintegrated when Hutchison left at the end of 2010. There were reports and allegations that Hutchison was dismissed for an inappropriate relationship with a swimmer, though those allegations were never proven.

A press release from Kukors’ attorney Bob Allard, who has represented many victims of sexual abuse in swimming, says that “after years of suppressing memories of the pain and suffering, [she] came to the realization that she was sexually abused.” The release also says Kukors worked with the Department of Homeland Security and local police, who obtained a warrant and searched Hutchison’s apartment.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reports that Hutchison is accused of taking nude photos of “an underage Olympian he was sexually abusing,” though it doesn’t name the athlete. That report says that a Homeland Security investigation discovered electronic devices that “may contain evidence that Hutchison sexually exploited swimmers he was trusted to coach.” The Seattle PI story goes on to say Kukors accuses Hutchison of taking “hundreds or thousands of sexually explicit photographs of her” at the age of 17.

We requested police records related to the warrant and the search, but the local police department says it isn’t required to release the public records until after the investigation is complete.

Kukors’ allegations come on the heels of the high-profile Larry Nassar case in which more than 150 women testified about alleged sexual abuse at the hands of the sports medicine doctor. Kukors’ press release mentions Nassar by name, comparing the USOC’s failure to stop Nassar’s abuse to USA Swimming’s handling of Hutchison. The release alleges that USA Swimming knew about an inappropriate athlete-coach relationship involving Hutchison as early as 2010 and didn’t take action against him.

Hutchison is still involved in coaching. He is the CEO of King Aquatic Club and runs a multi-sport training program called Ikkos. We reached out to Hutchison for comment, but have not yet received a response.

Update 2/8: King has removed Hutchison from the coaches page on its website and gave us this statement: “King Aquatics is devoted to the healthy development and safety of young swimmers and athletes.  Last night’s news broke our collective hearts.  Ariana Kukors is part of the King Aquatic family and we only want the best for her.  Our staff is meeting to review this devastating news.  Sean Hutchison is an executive with King but has had no direct interaction with our swimmers for a very long time.  We support all of the past and current King Aquatic swimmers, and that will continue to be our number one priority.”

Update 2/9: Hutchison’s attorney has released a statement from Hutchison to the Associated Press denying the allegations. His full statement is below:

“At no time did I ever abuse Ariana Kukors or do anything with her that was not consensual. I absolutely deny having any sexual or romantic relationship with her before she was old enough to legally make those decisions for herself. Prior to that time, I did nothing to ‘groom’ her.

“After the 2012 Olympics we were in a committed relationship and Ariana lived at my residence in Seattle for more than a year. Her younger sister also lived with us for several months and her mother was a regular visitor to our home. I deeply regret that she would make these wild allegations all these years later.”

 

In her press release, Kukors said she came forward with her allegations in order to protect others from suffering sexual abuse and grooming:

“I never thought I would share my story because, in so many ways, just surviving was enough,” Kukors said. “I  was able to leave a horrible monster and build a life I could have never imagined for myself. But in time, I’ve realized that stories like my own are too important to go unwritten. Not for the sake of you knowing my story, but for the little girls and boys whose lives and future hangs in the grasp of a horribly powerful and manipulative person. That they may not have to go  through the same pain, trauma, horror, and abuse. That their parents, mentors, and guardians  are better able to spot the signs of grooming and realize it’s tragic consequences before it’s too late.”

Kukors’ attorney says she filed a complaint with USA Swimming’s SafeSport division two weeks ago. He said USA Swimming received a complaint in 2011 and investigated by interviewing Kukors, who at the time denied she was in a relationship with Hutchison. We reached out to USA Swimming for comment but have not yet received response.

Update 2/8: USA Swimming responded with a statement detailing their 2010 investigation, in which the federation says Kukors, Hutchison and Kukors’ sister all denied any romantic or sexual relationship. The full statement is 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.”

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172 Comments on "Olympian Ariana Kukors Accuses Former Coach Sean Hutchison of Sexual Abuse"

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Inspired By Courage

This had to take a lot of courage on Ari’s behalf. Bravo, Ariana, for your bravery. We need more victims to understand that telling your story is not easy, but what happened to you is not your fault.

We also need to clean house of all the creeps in this sport!

Im going to catch tomorrow now

So sad. I remember this was a scandalous rumor at the time and all based on speculation. Turns out to be right. SMH

so, why did she continue to see him for several years. Jilted lover?

Correa, you have no idea what your talking about. Maybe spend some time researching the psychological aspects of abuse and why victims stay in ‘relationships’….

And let’s not forget that if she was in a relationship with Hutchinson while in her late teens and 20’s and had feelings for him, and had only ever been coached by him, and was training for the Olympics, it’s highly unlikely that she’s going to tell an investigator she has never met, “Oh, yeah, we are dating, and by the way, he molested me when I was 16.” If you don’t understand that you don’t understand the psychology of abuse.

Sum Ting Wong

Add her sister who denied any relationship existed.

According to Ariana, her sisters did not know.

Wow unfortunate how you lack the intelligence and life experience to understand that sexual grooming of a young charge to whom you wield a massive imbalance of power and influence over has nothing to do with “her choosing to continue for many years” or “being a jilted lover”.

Based upon the responses, guilty without appropriate review. Seems like the momentum is always on the side of the accuser. She may be right, but a guy gets lynched without his side being brought forward. There are women that have a motive to exaggerate. Let the facts eventually rule.

I think “reaching out” to ask the accuser for a comment is a fair chance for him to bring his side forward.

At this point, he probably has legal counsel to not comment. If Homeland Security recovers pictures on his electronic devices they recover, then for sure game over for him.

the down votes validate my post.

The down votes mean everyone wants you to shut up and stop spewing ignorance

Raymond Woods

You still here?

you are right, there is no definitive proof, yet, but in your response are you not too taking a side? We are tending to trust Ariana’s account because this is a distrurbingly common occurrence within amateur athletics, she filed a complaint years ago(2011) which would suggest that she did not just hatch this plan on the spot, and there have been whispers of abuse like this for years. My position is that she is just coming out about this now because up until this point she had no faith in the powers at be to do anything about it. You seem to be trying to discredit her claim simply because she is a woman and “there are women who have… Read more »

It was my understanding that in 2011, Ari did not file a complaint. At the time USA swimming interviewed her, and she said no relationship existed. Doesn’t sound like a person who file a complaint. I believe the complaint was filed by two Southern California coaches, one who is still active, and the other who is deceased.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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