Former Swimmer Sues Germantown Academy For Alleged Abuse

A former Germantown Academy swimmer is suing the prep school for allowing what he claims was physical and mental abuse inflicted on him during the tenure of well-known coach Dick Shoulberg.

The anonymous swimmer, now an adult, is suing his former school for tolerating abuse he says came from both other swimmers and the coaching staff, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The former swimmer, named in the suit as “John Doe,” was a distance swimmer who was invited to train at Germantown Academy when he was in the eighth grade, the Inquirer reports. He says Shoulberg pitted him against another swimmer, causing that swimmer to start physically and verbally abusing Doe and eventually getting arrested and pleading guilty, according to the report.

Doe maintains that Germantown Academy swimmers had a “freshman fight club” in which underclassmen were forced to beat on each other for the amusement of upperclassmen. Doe also alleges instances of verbal abuse against multiple athletes by Shoulberg, including calling female swimmers “fat, out of shape, sluts, and tramps.”

Doe also says he went to Shoulberg to alert the coach to the abuse Doe was getting from other swimmers, but says Shoulberg didn’t take action to rectify the situation, even ordering an assistant coach to “follow orders or be fired” when he demaded Shoulberg take action, according to the Inquirer report.

Doe’s lawyer says the former swimmer ended up quitting the team and is now suffering from depression. He is suing the Germantown Academy for allegedly covering up the abuse and allowing Shoulberg to remain in his position.

Shoulberg, a well-known distance coach who spent 46 years at Germantown, came under fire in 2013, being mysteriously removed from the pool deck but publicly maintaining his innocence of any wrongdoing. Shoulberg was eventually reinstated, but then retired from his post last year. He still coaches at the Plymouth Community Center and the Mermaid Lake Swim Club, according to the Inquirer.

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i dont believe it
6 years ago

Take a look at the crazy Mother’s history of claiming abuse and wrong doing against her children. Not the first person to be fired as a teacher, a mentor, a counselor, a medical professional that have “wronged” the DeFriece Family. They thought the kid would get a full ride to college for swimming- he did not so they sue….or have a medical crisis…that is the pattern.

You Should Believe It
Reply to  i dont believe it
6 years ago

You “should believe it” – these are not made up allegations.

Tabitha
Reply to  You Should Believe It
6 years ago

NOPE

The Mom certainly has yapped to enough people and to” the son” so that I am sure you believe it – but the world is not flat either — even if she says it is.

Her Son laughed and joked and walked out of practice with “AL” for years—– but now we are supposed to “Believe it”

swimfan
Reply to  Tabitha
5 years ago

Which “AL” ?

Tabitha
Reply to  You Should Believe It
6 years ago

OH COME ON!!!!!

brotatocell
6 years ago

Interesting article on concussion.inc : http://concussioninc.net/?p=10727

Teabag parties in the locker room? LOL. Apparently, if you are thinking about swimming in this program, or Shoulberg’s new program, bring lots oil. If you don’t have a speedo no worries, they are optional.

Popcorn
6 years ago

Why wait so long to file the lawsuit?

I can finish a race
6 years ago

The truth is Andrew Defriece and his family are doing this for attention and money. They can’t own up to the fact that Andrew will never be as fast as he was when he was training with Shoulberg…. In fact he can’t even finish a 1500 anymore. The things they accused Shoulberg of saying/doing are so incredibly untrue. It’s disturbing how they can live with themselves knowing they lied and exaggerated every incident written in this lawsuit to ruin Shoulbergs life.

JLF
Reply to  I can finish a race
6 years ago

For money? That is laughable.
I am a GA graduate and $50,000 is just a year’s tuition.
I frankly don’t know what to think. I knew Mr. Shoulberg back in the 80s and he was always gracious… though he did have a reputation for being a tough coach who promoted the success and integrity of his swimmers.

SwimFan
6 years ago

Not sure why the hostility toward the plaintiff if the report is accurate that a police report was filed and the aggressor plead guilty. If a coach representing the institution indeed put an 8th grade swimmer in a competitive situation with a much more physically mature swimmer and did not monitor that it was a respectful rather than confrontational and intimidating environment then that is really poor leadership that is a liability for the school. Many top swim clubs kick off a swimmer at the first sign of any locker room or social media bullying.

I can finish a race
Reply to  SwimFan
6 years ago

The truth is Andrew Defriece and his family are doing this for attention and money. They can’t own up to the fact that Andrew will never be as fast as he was when he was training with Shoulberg…. In fact he can’t even finish a 1500 anymore. The things they accused Shoulberg of saying/doing are so incredibly untrue. It’s disturbing how they can live with themselves knowing they lied and exaggerated every incident written in this lawsuit to ruin Shoulbergs life.

Steve_Kester
6 years ago

I swam for Dick Shoulberg for four years when there was significantly less scrutiny, awareness and litigation surrounding bullying. I saw no evidence Shoulberg tolerated or promoted this kind of alleged behavior. Rather, he was focused on discipline, hard work, and challenging every kid regardless of his or her ability – and for that I thank him, as I’ve taken the lessons forward and tried to instill the same in my children.
REPLY

Old GA Swimmer
Reply to  Steve_Kester
6 years ago

I agree Steve. I swam for Shoulberg on and off for 20 years. I never saw the kind of behavior that is alleged by the accuser regarding Shoulberg. If anything Shoulberg taught his swimmers about hard work, honesty and integrity. While bullying certainly occurs in boys’ lockerrooms and is unacceptable I have serious doubts that Shoulberg knew anything of what is being alleged. In my experience with him, had he known about any of this alleged behavior there would have been serious consequences. The fact that the Plymouth-Whitemarsh investigated and cleared Shoulberg of any wrongdoing (remember, he’s a mandatory reporter under PA state law) and the attorney for the accuser is claiming Shoulberg’s media statement that he did nothing wrongis… Read more »

Voice of Reason
Reply to  Old GA Swimmer
6 years ago

It doesn’t matter what his teammates say or not. The bully plead guilty to all of the accused charges, and therefore, there are no questions or argument over the facts of the situation. Notice that the school sent out an email and disputed none of the charges; however, they claim they are trying to fix it in the future which is admirable and what the plaintiff only wanted (for other kids not to go through what he went through). None of this is slander as every single bit of it is true. Regardless of people’s personal experiences with Coach Shoulberg, it doesn’t changed what he did in this specific situation. Germantown Academy is filled with hostility not only on the… Read more »

S. Keptical
Reply to  Voice of Reason
6 years ago

“The bully plead guilty to all of the accused charges, and therefore, there are no questions or argument over the facts of the situation.” How do you know ALL of the charges levied against the ALLEGED bully and to what he pled guilty? The averments contained in the ALLEGED victim’s complaint, as reported by a newspaper, should not automatically be assumed to be true. Maybe he pled guilty to a parking ticket? I am not saying that I approve of what the ALLEGED bully ALLEGEDLY did. The fact of the matter is that very few people truly know what transpired (I certainly do not). But, why is it okay for you to claim to be the Voice of Reason in… Read more »

justkeepswimming
6 years ago

I swam for Shoulberg for 5 years and pretty much lived at the pool between sessions. He was always tough and demanded a lot from his swimmers. He is also a fair and caring coach. I still try to visit him every year and continue to support him.

Tired of cluelessness
Reply to  justkeepswimming
6 years ago

Who cares? You have nothing to add to this.

justkeepswimming
Reply to  Tired of cluelessness
6 years ago

adding my personal experience does add to this

Rory Connell
6 years ago

why then did he continue to train & attend school w the teammates & coaches he alleges such abuse from for the next 5+yrs?

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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