Australia’s “the Courier Mail” is reporting that Kenrick Monk will escape prosecution for lying to police about a skateboarding accident in which he broke his elbow two months ago.
Monk initially told police that he was struck by a car while riding his bike to practice, and was found by three of his teammates at the St. Peter’s Western Swim Club, including Stephanie Rice. He didn’t just leave it there, either, as he continued on to tell police that he believed that he was intentionally targeted, which launched a Queensland police attempted murder investigation.
Monk faced up to three years in prison, but when Swimming Australia spoke out in his favor, the charges were dropped. Not to the thrill of Queensland police, however. Ian Leavers, the president of the Queensland Police Department, had the following to say about Swimming Australia’s involvement:
“Swimming Australia now being caught red-handed being complicit in orchestrating Mr Monk out of being charged by police has to be the final nail in the coffin of (its) fast-sinking credibility.”
A swimming organization working back channels to protect its members when they’re guilty of a crime? This sounds awfully reminiscent of some of the problems that USA Swimming has had in the last decade, and now not only is Monk guilty, but Swimming Australia has involved themselves. Now, the shift of blame will come off of Monk and on to the national organization, which could spark anger within the amateur swimming community.
How far Swimming Australia went into Monk’s defense (accusations of “back channel” connections being used for pressure have been thrown around by police) has only been heard from one side. Swimming Australia, for their part, defended their backing and said that Monk was disciplined internally, though it’s hard to understand what sort of internal punishments could offset having a crime of this severity on his record. Hopefully it involves some sort of community service to repay the resources that were wasted in the investigation.
And that’s the confusion here. If Swimming Australia had simply spoken out in favor of a lightened punishment, then there might not have been as much outrage. Nobody wants to see a young person locked away for three years for a single mistake. But for him to be completely absolved of a crime is where the public (and police) anger will come from.