Attorney Bob Allard Calls For Removal of 8 USA Swimming Figures In Open Letter

Attorney Bob Allard, who frequently represents survivors of sexual abuse in lawsuits against USA Swimming, has written an open letter on behalf of sexual abuse survivors calling for USA Swimming to “expel” 8 people from the organization.

Allard’s letter says the eight named individuals have been part of a USA Swimming culture that “has been responsible for the sexual abuse of countless minor swimmers.” Allard specifically names the following individuals, asking USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey to permanently and publicly ban them from the sport:

 

The letter, and all eight names, are related to a set of three civil lawsuits filed last month by six survivors of sexual abuse under new California laws that extend the statute of limitations for such suits. The suits revolve around three now-banned swim coaches: Mitch Ivey, Everett Uchiyama, and Andy King. The suits say USA Swimming failed to protect the six women from abuse at the hands of their swim coaches, and created a culture that allowed abuse to happen.

In a press conference last month, one of those abuse survivors – Debra Grodensky – had already named Benton, Nygren and Morselli as responsible parties she says should be removed from leadership positions in USA Swimming.

Allard says the open letter represents all six of his clients in the three new lawsuits, along with “approximately 5 more who have come forward since the last press conference.”

Here is a brief summary of how the letter describes each of the eight individuals and their connection to sexual abuse within USA Swimming:

Murray Stephens

Murray Stephens was the longtime head coach of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Allard’s letter says that “USA Swimming has known since as late as October 2011 that Stephens is a sexual predator,” but allowed him to quietly resign instead of banning him.

Paul Bergen

Paul Bergen was a coach on Olympic and World Championship teams in the ’70s and ’80s. He has been accused by Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff-Schmidt of sexually abusing her when she was a teen. Bergen has not been banned by USA Swimming or the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

John Leonard

John Leonard has been the executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) since 1985 and is set to retire at the end of this year. The letter accuses him of honoring Stephens with induction into the ASCA Hall of Fame. The letter also says Leonard and ASCA awarded a swim school franchise to Uchiyama after his quiet firing from USA Swimming for sexual misconduct.

We spoke to Leonard by phone this week. He said that he has never been involved in ASCA awards – those are voted on by the Board of Directors. Leonard also said that ASCA records showed no indication that Uchiyama was ever a director for Swim America, the ASCA-licensed swim school.

“Mr. Allard’s press releases rarely are based on fact,” Leonard said.

Mary Jo Swalley

Mary Jo Swalley headed up Southern California Swimming, the LSC for the region. The letter says Swalley didn’t intervene or pay for Uchiyama to have a separate room from his teenage swimmer at junior nationals. The letter alleges that Swalley admitted years later that she had mishandled the situation in a board meeting.

Swalley says she was never contacted by Allard and that the call for her removal came as a “total surprise.”

“The facts are simply wrong,” she said. “His representations are not what happened.”

Swalley says Allard is mistakenly conflating Southern California Swimming (the LSC Swalley had worked with) and SoCal Aquatics (Uchiyama’s club). Swalley says she’s never had any association with SoCal Aquatics, and that Southern California Swimming had no say in SoCal Aquatics’ policies on housing or hotel rooms.

Swalley said she didn’t recall ever saying she’d mishandled the situation in a board meeting. “I never made a comment that I mishandled anything, because there was never anything that I’d directly handled.”

Mark Schubert

Mark Schubert is a former National Team Director for USA Swimming. He’s accused in the letter of knowing about abuse by a long list of swim coaches and failing to intervene or take action. One specific example from the letter: when he was coaching at the University of Texas, the letter says, swimmer Kelly Currin confided in him about abuse she suffered at the hands of her former coach, Rick Curl. The letter says Schubert dismissed her from the team, calling her a “distraction.”

Schubert told SwimSwam this week that Allard’s allegations were “completely false.” Schubert says that when Currin told him about prior abuse, she and her family had already legally settled the case and asked him not to share the information. Schubert says he still did share Currin’s story with his athletic director and assistant athletic director, and both agreed that it should be kept in confidence.

Schubert says Currin was not dismissed from the team, but chose to quit while dealing with an eating disorder. The letter accuses Schubert of being part of the ASCA Board that elected Curl as Coach of the Year in 1994, but Schubert says he did not vote for Curl at the time, because of the things Currin had told him about Curl’s abuse.

“I’ve always been concerned and cognizant of the safety of any athletes that I’ve been in charge of,” Schubert said. “For [Allard] to imply otherwise is just absolutely false.”

Clint Benton

Clint Benton is a board member for the Pacific Swimming LSC. The letter says he received a complaint about sexual abuse by coach Andy King and took orders from former USA Swimming executive Chuck Wielgus to cover it up.

Steve Morsilli

Steve Morsilli is the head coach of the Pleasanton Seahawks in California. The letter says he was notified about sexual abuse allegations against King, but did not report them to police or other authorities. The letter also says Benton ordered Morselli to remain silent about the abuse allegations.

Morsilli called the allegations untrue, and said he wasn’t aware of King’s sexual misconduct until 2009-2010 after King was arrested.

Around 2002 or 2003, Morsilli says, he helped a former swimmer write a letter of complaint about King. The swimmer accused King of forcing her to kiss a teammate in front of the rest of the group to get out of swimming extra laps. Morsilli says the swimmer specifically asked that no action be taken, but wanted her complaint on file in case there were other issues with King.

Morsilli says he doesn’t recall the former swimmer mentioning anything about a sexual relationship between King and his athletes at the time, and that he felt that getting her complaint to the proper people (it went up the chain from Pacific Swimming to USA Swimming) was his responsibility.

“I got pulled into this situation in the hope of supporting my swimmer and facilitating her complaint,” Morsilli told SwimSwam. “I thought I was one of the ‘good guys’ by supporting her wish to bring the issue forward. Somehow, that has been turned around and now I am being considered a ‘bad guy.'”

Millie Nygren

Millie Nygren has been a board member with Pacific Swimming and is also connected to the King case, the letter says. According to Allard, Nygren knew about the abuse allegations against King and failed to report them to police or other authorities. The letter says Nygren was part of the decision not to renew King’s contract with a club, but that the failure to make the allegations public to authorities allowed King to sexually abuse several more swimmers over the next 25 years.

 

We asked USA Swimming for comment on the letter (which was delivered to Hinchey’s attorney), but have not yet received an official response. SwimSwam has also attempted to contact all 8 individuals named by the letter.

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Swimmmer
1 year ago

Burn it down!

Brian M
1 year ago

Funny how this advocacy comes in the form of a big fat cut of the action when suits are won or settled. I wonder how much of a crusader he would be if there were no money involved. As someone who experienced abuse, it’s so contrived and old.

Belvedere
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

What is the cost for people to receive a voice and justice? From repeat offenders and those that conceal them?

Brian M
Reply to  Belvedere
1 year ago

If he is such an advocate for these victims, maybe create a foundation to cover the legal costs instead so these ladies can recover the full award. Writing “open letters” like this cloaked in some cape of virtue is him just setting up the next case to cash in on. I am sure he has made millions many times over already. And speaking from experience, the money and voice don’t heal you.

Belvedere
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Pretty sure the open letter was call for action against know people, not lawsuits and money. All USA needs to do is take bold action, not investing tens of thousands lobbying against child protection along with USA gymnastics (former USA gymnastics). I didn’t see a big financial burden in the call to action, just courage.

IU Swammer
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Yeah. The real problem here is that the professional taking on this job might get paid for his services. That’s where we need to focus our attention at this moment. /s

Joy
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

This attorney has been advocating for athletes for over a decade. The call outs in his open letter are against people who did absolutely nothing when they received hordes of complaints against predators. This sh*thouse needs to be burned down and I’m frankly happy to finally see progress.

UHAVE-NOCLUE
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

How do you know how much he gets paid? How do you know if he isn’t doing it pro bono? Making comments like yours, isn’t helpful in any way. I’m sorry you were abused, but I do believe Allard has every right to earn a living. You making statements about Allard and how much money he may or may not make, tells me that you know nothing about him, and you’re making these statements without any Information. Again, if he is making money, he has every right to do so. What have you done to help purge USAS of abusive coaches?

Nancy Hogshead-Makar
Reply to  Brian M
1 year ago

Wrong perspective. Funny how the people make so much money looking away from sexual abuse. Make no mistake: leadership made money by Not having to train the Swimming community (coaches, officials, athletes and families) about the unique risks sport creates for abuse. Research tells us that the more elite the athlete, the more likely they are to be abused by someone within their own entourage. Pedophiles gain access to children through sport. These “leaders” (haha) were spineless because addressing sexual abuse takes guts and money and risks relationships. So much easier to look the other way ….while the swimming community KNEW these young girls were being abused. Change your perspective on who made money from abuse.
Thank God our… Read more »

Belvedere
1 year ago

Mary jo deserves to be number 1 on that list. Her contributions to socal for 40+ years may be many great things and decades of service, but they are also a history of bullying, protecting abusers and criminals, and complete failure to care for the individuals who need a voice the most. The good don’t weigh out the bad, just look at the police in the news these days. Oh yeah, and playing the ignorance card is not an appropriate response for not keeping proper records and doing business on the down low like she did.

SCSParent
Reply to  Belvedere
1 year ago

Swalley protected Jeremy “Jay” Anderson for years, sending him on trips with young kids, supporting his bullying/threatening of young girls, supporting and watching the boys midget wrestling ritual on every scs All-star team and much more. She needs to be investigated. She was paid way too much for the mess she caused.

Guerra
1 year ago

I’m also in the “Burn it down” camp. USA Swimming has lied to and committed negligence and fraud on the coaches and membership for years. However, while most, if not all, of them need to go away, I’m not sure if most of these people’s documented conduct outlined in this article rise to the level of being banned from the sport. Clint Benson should be banned. He actively worked with, and complied, with Chuck Wielgus to cover-up the Andy King scandal. While Mark Schubert and John Leonard are both self-serving opportunist and acted in a very sleazy manner (especially Schubert), I’m not sure if you can ban either of them. There’s more of an argument to ban Schubert as opposed… Read more »

Coach
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

I don’t understand Morselli being on the list. Allard’s letter claimed he was quiet about the abuse, but Morselli is on record helping an athlete file a complaint with USA Swimming and Pacific Swimming in 2003. Morselli spoke up. That’s exactly what we want people to do.

Guerra
Reply to  Coach
1 year ago

I agree. After reading a couple of the articles online, especially the Orange County Register, I still don’t understand why they’re after Morselli. I think that Benson and Paul Bergen should be banned. What about Dick Shoulberg? I saw this online, too. Another one of the good ole boys? If this is true, what a scum!
http://chrisdcoach.com/blog/2018/10/25/dick-shoulberg-is-no-legend

Belvedere
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

An easy question to ask, and USA swimming and every other organization should be prepared to answer is “what disqualifies any individual from being part of our organization”. Every team is required to follow the code of conduct, your schools or place of employment, the military, your HOA! Just about every organization in our society (besides politics on both sides) has a code of conduct it follows for the privilege of participating. Why the leadership of USA swimming does not have an answer to this question and is able to do business as usual continues to concern me.

UHAVE-NOCLUE
Reply to  Belvedere
1 year ago

They do have codes of conduct. But USAS chooses whether or its in their best interest (USAS) to actually use them. They have and always will do ANYTHING that’s only in the best interest of USAS. Literally ANYTHING, that’s why the people listed in the letter have been able, and have continued to get away with everything. They will continue to spend millions of dollars for attorneys/fixers to get them out of all of the coverups, abuse, and the actions of all of the perpetrators, that have left a stain on the reputation of USAS. They have never done the right thing, and until USAS has completely rid itself of all the cancerous people they support, and allow to continue… Read more »

Jordanwins2golds
Reply to  UHAVE-NOCLUE
1 year ago

continue doing what they do and training others to do the same.

Anti-Illini
1 year ago

Burn down the good ole boys club. They have all been protecting each other for years. If you weren’t in it, you were screwed. I’m not surprised if some of the contributors at swim swam weren’t involved in some of the cover up.

Taa
1 year ago

I’ll object to the comments made. This is partly what is wrong with our culture right now. Trying cases in the media is not how it’s done. Firing people based off accusations made by an attorney who has a huge financial interest in these matters is just insane.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Thank you TAA. Spot on. The media is not our friend.

swimapologist
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
1 year ago

That HISWIMCOACH wants to protect this list of people, many of whom are maybe not criminal but most/all of whom seem to have trouble follow them, is the least surprising thing I’ve read on the internet today.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

I don’t want to try their case in the court of public opinion. They may all be guilty. Allard has his right to a lawsuit and we will see what happens. I stand by my comment while also being against reprehensible behavior that leads to these situations.

SCSParent
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
1 year ago

If it weren’t for the media Larry Nasser would still be abusing young girls.

HISWIMCOACH
Reply to  SCSParent
1 year ago

You are right SCSPARENT. They got it right there. Many on this list are nowhere close to Nassar. I should not have made such a blanket statement. My fear is we drag some good peoples name through the mud when there really isn’t much there.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  HISWIMCOACH
1 year ago

“Good people on both sides.”

SCCoach
Reply to  SCSParent
1 year ago

Allard should also look into the verbal/mental abuse that so many of our peers have inflicted on their swimmers over the years. We have all witnessed some coaches (still actively coaching at the club or college level) going off on kids that crosses the line (even if we were still in the 70’s). This can be just as damaging over time as sexual abuse. We have a number if these low-life’s coaching among us today.

Belvedere
Reply to  SCCoach
1 year ago

Sexual abuse is what works for lawsuits. The extreme verbal and emotional abuse that is rampant in swimming is not enforced by USA swimming. That piece is immediately recognized, noted, and then handed back to the team to take care of. What has not shown up in any USA swimming initiatives yet are recognition of the grooming behaviors. Chief among those are the control of another persons emotions. You control the environment, you control the person. Sex abuse starts with emotional control.

Corn Pop
Reply to  SCSParent
1 year ago

He was quietly removed from the team in 2015 . However he continued to work in Michigan with local clubs & the university .

A coach at camp heard the girls discussing his methods & instead of going direct to Texas police she told a US staff member who relayed the message up the line. I believe Texan authorities would hgave had the balls to investigate & prosecute just as they did successfully with the ‘ religious ‘ cults .

Even from that stage there were so many crimes against the girls . I can only conclude the US was addicted to Olympic success & was quite prepared to keep sacrificing the lives of girls & their families. … Read more »

Jordanwins2golds
Reply to  Corn Pop
1 year ago

“US swimming is no t in that evil category.”

Yes they are.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Jordanwins2golds
1 year ago

Ok then . You guys are evil too & all your medals are tarnished.

Belvedere
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Agree completely. Firing people blindly is wrong. However USA swimming grants access by licensing coaches to be with youth. Because of this, there is an obligation by USA swimming to deny that license when any risk may be in place until it is resolved. That can be done privately but it has been undone for years which results in public notes and calls for removal in open letters

Guerra
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

TAA, before we judge him, we don’t know how much Allard actually has really profited off this scandal. USA Swimming was in the wrong and they, along with their lawyers (Holme, Robert & Owen, now Bryan Cave), which were paid for them by US the the membership, scratched and clawed and pulled every dirty and unethical trick in the book. It appears that finally uncovering this scandal and uncloaking the evil in USA Swimming has taken Allard 10-12 years, which is a hell of a long time in the legal profession. Lawyers make their money off of quick settlements and judgements. This was anything but. The strategy of USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics and Cave Bryan all along was to attack… Read more »

BBQ Billy
Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

Allard is raking-in big dollars. USA Swimming has settled several cases brought by Allard. There has been some good results. Make no mistake, he is profiting while seeking justice for complainants.

Guerra
Reply to  BBQ Billy
1 year ago

I’m not saying he’s not profiting, but it’s not the easiest money for a lawyer to make and there is a great deal of time and financial risk involved. I would think if he’s really in the legal profession for the sole purpose of the money, he wouldn’t have taken these cases against USA Swimming in the first place. And my question is would USA Swimming ever been held accountable if it wasn’t for Allard. After all, the accountability wouldn’t have happened in house or come down from the dirty unethical USOC.

Applesandoranges
Reply to  BBQ Billy
1 year ago

Who cares how much money Allard is making. He’s doing the heavy lifting and most likely funding some of these cases with his own money or with a personal guarantee, while you’re bellyaching about what he’s doing. He’s operating within the confines of the justice system here in the US. Now, if you’re intimating that the justice system needs to be reformed you might be correct.

BBQ Billy, if you’re unhappy with what Allard is doing, then either step up and do the work yourself for free, or offer to help Allard, if you can. Otherwise, just post a few post 4th of July bbq recipes that we can perfect between now and when the kids return to school.

DLswim
Reply to  Applesandoranges
1 year ago

Exactly. Whatever money he’s making is a red herring. He’s making money because the relevant allegations were true.

Eagleswim
Reply to  DLswim
1 year ago

Capitalism isn’t perfect, but if lawyers are making money by taking down pedophile rings, that’s an excellent example of capitalism working well.

BBQ Billy
Reply to  Applesandoranges
1 year ago

My comment made no mention of unhappy. Allard is profiting greatly as several cases previously settled add up to millions in settlements. He’s been at this for ten years vs USA-S. He is the “Gloria Allred” of swimming. Just the facts.

applesandoranges
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Say the attorney was doing this pro bono or is donating some or all of his legal fees to charity, but did not publicize it here on SwimSwam or any other site. Would it then be ok to fire people based on the accusations of the same attorney? Does it really matter? I think you are implying that the attorney has a stake in the outcome so any allegations or accusations that he might make are to be taken with a grain of salt?

W3T
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Attorneys are professionals who are paid to deal with legal matters. Unless you expect all legal work to be done pro bono, every attorney has financial interests in the cases they work on.

Anonymous
1 year ago

The last thing USA swimming should want is to be on HBO or Netflix appearing to not care about their athletes. If USA swimming doesn’t police its own it will come out in the end and then all they can do is apologize and look like villains. It’s not a good look. I don’t know who did what and furthermore parents of 8 year olds won’t care if when they are looking for a sport for little Susie or Johnny, they will remember what they saw on HBO and Netflix.

Belvedere
1 year ago

Please go and watch “athlete A” on Netflix or “at the heart of gold” on Hulu / HBO. The two organizations (USA swimming and USA gymnastics) have operated with identical maneuvers and strategies. I do not call for firings, but accountability which is a failure of the governing body under last leadership and continues under current. The policy of USA swimming, especially while they were running their own in house/private safe sport (did anyone reading this know that it wasn’t actually a third party group keeping things anonymous, all issues went to leadership and risk management?) and before until recently, was identical to USA gymnastics policy of refusal to take action or investigate based on field complaints. It is a… Read more »

Ampersand
Reply to  Belvedere
1 year ago

Sadly, Mitch Ivey pretty much destroyed the good work that George Haines did at the Santa Clara swim club, as well as many young lives. So many knew what he was doing and did nothing… parents, swimmers, coaches. And how many other perverts saw that Mitch was getting away with it and were inspired to act out .

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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