In July 2011, Bill Jewell filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team, Inc. (“FAST”) and its board of directors seeking damages in excess of $500,000 in the Superior Court of Orange County, California. During the progression of this case, FAST filed a cross complaint against Mr. Jewell claiming damages suffered as a result of Mr. Jewell’s breach of contract action. A jury heard this case last week and rendered a verdict in favor of FAST.
A 70-year-old Jewell claimed that FAST terminated his head coach and chief operating officer contracts because of his advancing age. FAST replied that its reasons for Mr. Jewell’s termination arose from his failure to cure coaching and operating deficiencies under his employment contracts. FAST went a step further and counter sued Mr. Jewell. One claim FAST asserted against Mr. Jewell involves similar allegations raised by Dia Rianda in her wrongful termination lawsuit currently pending against Mark Schubert and FAST for Mr. Jewell’s alleged inappropriate sexual contact with female swimmers on the pool deck.
Part of the time during which Jewell was employed by FAST was during the time where it was a USA Swimming Center of Excellence.
As a USA Swimming coach, Mr. Jewell is required to follow USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct and the Policies and Best Practice Guidelines for Athlete Protection. In its suit against Mr. Jewell, FAST claimed that Mr. Jewell violated this Code of Conduct which prohibits “any sexual conduct, advance or other inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards an athlete by … a coach member ….” FAST asserted in its claims that in May 2011 FAST began hearing allegations that Mr. Jewell “made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to and around athletes. Including teenage female athletes, and in front of FAST employees.”
After Mr. Jewell was terminated, FAST claims that it obtained testimony from Mr. Jewell and former FAST swimmers which “show Jewell failed to consider the vulnerabilities of his teenage athletes and made repeated comments that were sexual or inappropriate in nature. This includes statements which were sexually explicit and/or which referenced sex, sexual activities, and female body parts, topics which are clearly inappropriate for conversations with teenage athletes.”
According to the complaint, Mr. Jewell denied these allegations when confronted by FAST and began a campaign to “ferret out” those individuals who had complained about him. As a result of his inappropriate sexual behavior and other breaches of his employment agreements, FAST terminated Mr. Jewell on June 30, 2011.
While FAST also had other claims against Mr. Jewell, the one claim the jury seemed to focus on in making its determination was Mr. Jewell’s inappropriate conduct with female swimmers. During the jury deliberations, the jurors requested to hear one particular piece of testimony again, according to the jury minutes. The jury asked to hear Michael Chasson’s testimony concerning Mr. Jewell’s breach of USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct. Chasson is the president of Sun Devil Aquatics in Arizona; we were unable to obtain directly Mr. Chasson’s testimony as of posting (it is not available publicly).
As of this date, Mr. Jewell is not listed on USA Swimming’s permanently suspended or ineligible list.