Ariana Kukors Files Civil Suit Vs Hutchison, USA Swimming, Schubert

Olympian Ariana Kukors (now Ariana Kukors Smith by marriage) has filed a civil suit against former coach Sean HutchisonUSA Swimming and former national team director Mark Schubert, alleging sexual abuse of a minor and negligence.

Kukors says Schubert and USA Swimming covered up sex crimes by Hutchison, and that Schubert failed to report “reasonable suspicion of child abuse or endangerment” based on behavior Kukors said Schubert saw between then-teenage Kukors and her coach at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships and 2007 World Championships.

Kukors and her attorneys announced the suit in a press conference today. In the suit, she also alleges that USA Swimming vice president Murray Stephens and former USA Swimming Club Development Managing Director Pat Hogan “protected Hutchison during a background check,” per The OC Register. Hogan resigned in February. Though he didn’t specify a reason for his resignation, he had come under fire for his relationship with his first wife, who began swimming for him at age 17, when he was a 27-year-old coach. Hogan says the relationship between the two didn’t start until both were adults.

The suit seeks payment for damages, for legal fees and for punitive damages against Hutchison, USA Swimming, KING Aquatic Club and Aquatic Management Group.

Update: USA Swimming has released the following statement:

“As expressed earlier this year, we respect Ariana Kukors’ bravery in stepping forward and sharing her story. We have been in regular contact with her legal team over the last several months and will continue to work with them and Ariana through this process. No further information will be provided at this time, given the pending litigation.”

You can read the full lawsuit here. We’ll continue digging through and updating this story with any more pertinent information we find.

Background

Earlier this year, Kukors came forward with allegations that Hutchison began grooming her at the age of 13 and sexually abusing her at 16 while Hutchison coached her at the KING Aquatic Club in Washington. Hutchison categorically denied the allegations, saying only that he and Kukors had “a committed relationship” that did not begin until she was “old enough to make those decisions for herself.”

Hutchison began coaching Kukors when he was 31. Kukors and Hutchison later moved to join a burgeoning professional training group within Fullerton Area Swim Team, or FAST, in 2009.

USA Swimming admitted that it received a tip about an inappropriate relationship between the two in 2010 (Kukors was 21 by then, but a relationship between a coach and swimmer was still against USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct), but says its investigation didn’t turn up any evidence. The organization says Hutchison, Kukors and Kukors’ sister all denied that a romantic relationship existed. Kukors’ attorney says Kukors denied the claims because she was in an abusive relationship with Hutchison at the time.

But that investigation is now under scrutiny of its own. USA Swimming’s former SafeSport Senior Director Susan Woessner resigned earlier this year while admitting she kissed Hutchison in 2007 and didn’t disclose the kiss when she worked on the 2010 investigation of Hutchison and Kukors.

Then-USA Swimming National Team head coach Mark Schubert claimed earlier this year that he heard rumors that Hutchison was engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a swimmer, and that he brought those rumors to the attention of FAST head coach and CEO Bill Jewell. Jewell then hired a private investigator, but the only evidence found was a photo of Hutchison and Kukors’ cars parked together at 5 AM in front of Hutchison’s condo.

But now, The OC Register reports that Jewell claims he began to hear rumors and asked Schubert to help him find a private investigator. Jewell’s story places that interaction after Schubert had been fired by USA Swimming.

Kukors: ‘A pedophile is a pedophile’

You can read the full OC Register report, which includes a lot more detail on Hutchison’s alleged abuse of Kukors here. In it, Kukors has some strong words for her former coach and romantic partner:

“A pedophile is a pedophile and that’s exactly what I believe Sean Hutchison is based on a what he’s done to me,” Kukors says.  …”[T]he power differential is extremely important not only to take into account the sexual abuse but also the psychological abuse that comes into play there. Because when you have someone dangling the golden carrot of your Olympic dream it doesn’t leave a whole lot of options”

Kukors also says Hutchison remained in contact with her after she broke things off, even after she met her future fiancee, Matt Smith. In the OC Register report, Kukors says Smith found out about the sexual abuse, and in 2016, he contacted Hutchison and told him to stop contacting Kukors. Kukors says she was terrified about what Hutchison would do. Smith says he’d never seen someone so terrified in his life, and that Kukors’ reaction when he told her he’d contacted Hutchison was “to sit on the floor in the fetal position for like an hour.”

More background:

Lawsuit Specifics

Here’s a look at some of the specific allegations made in Kukors’ lawsuit:

  • That USA Swimming officials “secretly agreed” to manipulate the organization’s background-check process to protect Hutchison from “pervasive rumors of his inappropriate sexually motivated behavior towards minors.”
  • That Murray and Hogan also benefited from this manipulation so they would also pass background checks.
  • That USA Swimming officials warned others that if they spoke out against Hutchison, they could be liable of slander.
  • That a relationship between Hutchison and Kukors was “widely known” within USA Swimming leadership as of 2006, but that no one reported anything or tried to protect Kukors.
  • That Woessner “not only had a prior intimate sexual relationship with Hutchison but also had such a relationship with at least one other USA Swimming  swim coach.”

Also named in the lawsuit are the Aquatic Management Group (which managed the Mt. Rainier pool where Kukors says Hutchison first began grooming her with KING), Western Zone Swimming, Pacific Northwest Swimming (local governing bodies within USA Swimming) and KING Aquatic Club.

112
Leave a Reply

25 Comment threads
87 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
65 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Taa

I hope this is not about money but about bringing real change and transparency.

Dan

Wouldn’t be a bad thing if money was a factor. She’s a victim and deserves justice. Sometimes hitting being organizations financially is the only way to accomplish real change.

Taa

They would probably give her a ridiculous amount of money to settle quickly so they avoid all the bad publicity the suit will bring, So what I would tell her to do is to turn down the ridiculous cash offer and proceed to trial. At some point in the process she can name her own price and hit them with real reforms on behalf of all the other victims

Stan Crump

Except that the other victims won’t see a penny of it.

Snarky

You’ve never been through a lawsuit apparently.

Steve Nolan

Her words from the OCR post:

(But) I promised myself and I promised (Smith) that when I went public I would do so as loudly and boldly as I possibly could and I’m gaining steam every single day and it is because there are kids being abused out there and there are more that are on their way to being abused because these predators are making plans, they’re grooming them as we speak and that is why I feel the need to speak out, that is why I’m here. That is why we’re going to such drastic measures that I had hoped that we wouldn’t have to.

DeepSouthAtl

I may have missed it. Have Homeland or Seattle police filed any charges from the January raid?

This is a chilling read.

Unfortunate

Screaming money grab. Wow. She came out and made it seem like it was all about changes, and now here we have this obvious money grab by placing a lawsuit on all these non-profits. What does Western Zone Swimming or PNS have to do with this other than they are a party who can pay? Similar still… KING as a whole supported Ari and condemned Sean. But now they are being sued… why? Because they have money.

SVIRD

Ignorant.

Coach

Don’t think the timing of this is coincidental either, especially with Sarah E testifying with Congress this week.

Frequent flyer

I think she’s obviously trying to make as big of an impact as possible. They should pay for what was done to her.

ALEXANDER POP-OFF

As usual, people blame and shame the victim.

Anon

Because they have money? How about because they could have done something about a known sexual abuse, and chose not to.

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 …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!