Report: USA Swimming Ended Hutchison Probe Before Key Interviews

The FBI agent hired by USA Swimming to investigate sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Olympic and National Team coach Sean Hutchison in late 2010 said the organization prematurely shut down the investigation and mischaracterized her findings, the OC Register reported Tuesday.

According to documents obtained by the OC Register’s parent company the Southern California News Group, the sworn statements given by Dara Torres and her lawyer contradict what USA Swimming’s former athlete protection officer Susan Woessner originally relayed to USA Swimming on Torres’ behalf. The statement in question was regarding whether or not Torres saw the now-banned coach Hutchison leaving Ariana Kukors‘ hotel room during a U.S. National Team training camp leading up to the 2009 World Championships.

Hutchison landed a permanent ban from Olympic sports (including USA Swimming) by the U.S. Center for Safesport in October 2018 after an investigation into allegations made by Kukors (now Kukors Smith) that be began “grooming” her at the age of 13 and sexually abusing her at 16.

The “hundreds of documents” obtained include confidential USA Swimming emails, reports, memos, and depositions that reportedly show that former USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus and other high-ranking officials were concerned with protecting Hutchison’s reputation and well-being,

In December 2010, USA Swimming enlisted FBI veteran Paulette Brundage to investigate Hutchison and Kukors’ relationship amid allegations that Hutchison was sexually or romantically involved with Kukors – a violation of USA Swimming’s Code of Conduct.

A statement given by Wielgus cleared Hutchison’s name two months later, maintaining that a “full investigation” by an “independent investigator” found “no evidence to substantiate the existence of an inappropriate sexual relationship between Coach Hutchison and the athlete.”

But in a deposition obtained by the SCNG, Brundage stated that “It was not a full investigation,” and disputed an investigator’s report presented to USA Swimming officials by the governing body’s general counsel.

Brundage also said USA Swimming cut off the investigation before she could interview “four key witnesses,” including Dana Vollmer – Kukors Smith’s roommate at the training camp in question – as well well as Torres, then-US National Team Director Mark Schubert, and then-Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team coach Bill Jewell. She also took issue with the fact that Torres and Jewell were first interviewed by Wielgus and Woessner, which compromises the claim that USA Swimming brought in an independent party to conduct the investigation.

The OC Register story goes on to detail the ways in which Brundage says she was effectively blocked from interviewing witnesses and lays out a number of conflicts of interest presented by USA Swimming in confidential emails about the investigation.

Finally, the documents obtained show that USA Swimming worked with Hutchison to draft its press release regarding the conclusion of the investigation, offering him the chance to make edits as he saw fit (which he did not do), and repeatedly showed “deference” to Hutchison throughout the initial investigation.

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4 years ago

Burn it down. Burn it all down. Fire them all and throw Wielgus and Woessner in jail.

Reply to  NickB
4 years ago

Gonna be hard to throw Wielgus in jail now.

4 years ago

Just read the OC Register article. They covered this up and lied. What was the message from Stratton, Wielgus, et al to Sean? They were actually ‘sad’ for him that he had to go through this. I’m furious and I do not understand how this abuse was condoned by USA Swimming.

Kirk Nelson
Reply to  OldSwimmer
4 years ago

It’s the epitome of the old boys’ club: do a cursory investigation for the appearance that something is being done, but the real goal is to sweep the whole thing under the rug is quickly as possible.

Coach Mike 1952
4 years ago

This only adds to the foul stench already there

Protect our swimmers
4 years ago

Am I missing something? If he was sexually abusing a 16 yr old, shouldn’t he be serving time? Being barred from USA swimming should be the least of his worries.

Reply to  Protect our swimmers
4 years ago

Hutchison is under criminal investigation. But that doesn’t excuse USA Swimming’s intentional efforts to exonerate him… allowing him to continue to abuse Ariana Kukors.

Protect Our Athletes
Reply to  Chapped
4 years ago

Good to know. I agree, USA officials should be held accountable for their coverup and Sean should be punished to the maximum.

IU Swammer
4 years ago

I’m glad that USA Swimming has taken a more active role in requiring training for coaches and setting clearer rules to better insure kids are protected. But it does not excuse these not-so-distant past coverups. The culture seems to be changing, so I don’t want to attack USA Swimming’s current leadership for something they weren’t responsible for. On the other hand, this is so disheartening, and it’s beyond unsatisfing to just leave it at “oh well, these people are gone now. It’s all better.”

4 years ago

I hope USA Swimming learns from this huge mistake and does better moving forward. As a culture we HAVE to start caring more about victims than abusers. Wishing Ariana all the best, it seems like she has a great support network around her. Time for Hutchison to fade into oblivion.

Kirk Nelson
4 years ago

Why did it take this so long to come out?

4 years ago

How does corporate America change toxic culture? Clean house.

There’s a long list of qualified, capable folks who also have the ethical capacity to lead USA swimming.

Reply to  cbswims
4 years ago

Who is still at USA swimming from that time. I think there principles are gone.

Reply to  Mike
4 years ago

The principles are gone, but is the culture they worked in gone? A hard question to answer, and one that is best resolved with wholesale personnel changes.

Reply to  cbswims
4 years ago

Everyone except for Weiglus, who many people in that building still speak glowingly about, and Woessner are still there. I am way less optimistic about the current state of USA swimming and Olympic sports in general.

Must Account
Reply to  Huh?
4 years ago

This is true. Nothing has changed. Wielgus protected pedophiles and would still be there doing it.

Very disappointed in current batch of athlete reps for their tepid responses.

Reply to  Mike
4 years ago

Good question.

It’s “their” and “principals”, isn’t it? Or are you playing with words and indicating poor principles?

Reply to  FirstTimeCaller
4 years ago

Correct – angry typing… editor in me takes 5.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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