More than a decade after Norm Havercroft was publicly accused of sexually abusing multiple minors, the former West Valley Swim Club coach was issued a lifetime ban by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
Back in 2002, USA Swimming attorneys and insurance brokers reportedly attended a mediation session with one of Havercroft’s alleged victims — not even in her teens — before a confidential civil settlement. But in 2010, former USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus denied under penalty of perjury that his organization had any knowledge of prior allegations against Havercroft.
Another one of Havercroft’s alleged victims, Jancy Thompson, sued USA Swimming and West Valley Swim Club in 2010 for failing to take action against a coach who abused a team. She claimed that for five years, beginning she was 15, Havercroft molested her. Thompson said that he groomed her from a young age, sending her pornographic material and buying her a webcam for cybersex while he waited for her to turn 18. The Olympic hopeful said she quit swimming and gave up a scholarship to Arizona State University due to Havercroft’s abuse.
The civil suit ended in an undisclosed settlement after Thompson’s complaints to the San Jose Police Department resulted in no criminal indictments. Before she came forward to police, she actually testified in support of Havercroft when a 1997 San Jose police investigation involving an earlier victim was brought before a grand jury.
“I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer; how could I say something if I was wanting and yearning to be that good,” Thompson told ABC News. “No one would believe me. I didn’t realize at that time that a coach-athlete relationship should not be like that.”
Havercroft’s lawyer, Stephen Baker, argued that Thompson’s initial testimony is indication that her accusations are false and his client is innocent.
“People are wrongly making the assumption that settlement means [Havercroft] must have done it. No it doesn’t equate to that,” Baker told CNN in 2018. “You’ve gotta put yourself in those shoes before you say you wouldn’t settle because as great as our legal system is, it’s imperfect.”
SafeSport’s sanctions, issued on Monday, are officially for “sexual misconduct and criminal disposition involving a minor.” His permanent ineligibility is subject to appeal and not yet final.