2012 Olympian Ariana Kukors appeared on CBS This Morning today, going into more detail on her allegations that former coach Sean Hutchison groomed and abused her as a minor.
Kukors appeared alongside her attorney, Bob Allard, who has represented many victims of sexual abuse within swimming. Over the course of the eight-minute interview, Kukors talks about the early stages of the ‘grooming’ process as well as the impact going public with her accusations has had on her.
You can watch the full video of the interview on CBS’s website here, or watch the embedded video below:
Kukors said she hit “a new low point” in her life in October and began therapy, eventually realizing she needed to face the abuse she says happened when she was a minor. She says writing out her story in full (you can read the full piece here) was a “huge step in the healing process.”
Hutchison, meanwhile, has categorically denied any grooming or sexual abuse, saying the two were in a relationship after the 2012 Olympics, when Kukors was 23.
Asked about the specifics of the grooming process, Kukors said Hutchison started with small steps, like requiring his swimmers to shake his hand after each practice. But she says he continued escalating the coach/swimmer relationship to gain more control over her.
“It’s creating this relationship where you rely on this person for everything and you go to him for everything,” Kukors said. “And so as he guided me through this relationship of manipulation and control, he fully had control over me and prepared me for each step.”
Kukors recounts the praise she says Hutchison heaped on her to isolate her from others.
“The things he told me constantly were ‘you’re the most impressive person I’ve ever met.’ ‘I see things in you that your sisters don’t see in you, that your parents don’t see in you’,” Kukors said, going on to say the behavior is typical of predators. “They put you on a pedestal. And they put you there so that nobody can help you.”
A tearful Kukors also addresses what has become the central concern in the ongoing problem of abuse by coaches in both swimming and sports in general.
“We have conversations with kids about ‘don’t talk to strangers,’ ‘your privates are your own, they should not be touched by other people’,” Kukors said. “But… what happens when there’s a person that your parents see as a voice of authority, that they’d fully trust, that your family trusts, that your community is praising? What happens when that person abuses that power and takes advantage of you?”
You can read more about the ongoing story involving Kukors and Hutchison here:
- Kukors accuses Hutchison of grooming and sexual abuse
- Hutchison denies allegations of grooming and sexual abuse
- Kukors publishes details about her story on her website
- USA Swimming says it investigated Hutchison/Kukors relationship in 2010, but did not find wrongdoing or hear any allegations that the relationship occurred when Kukors was a minor
- Former National Team head coach Mark Schubert says he reported an alleged Hutchison/Kukors relationship to Hutchison’s boss in 2010