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.