(Above-left is a photo taken from Waite’s MySpace page, above-right is her mug shot).
As sad as it is, a new discovery of a coach having a relationship with a swimmer hardly shocks me anymore. This one, however, is a little bit different. That is because this time it’s a female coach having a relationship with a male swimmer, according to Utah’s Standard-Examiner newspaper.
Thirty-five year old Jaime Waite, who was a volunteer swim coach with the Ogden School District, is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a 17-year old male swimmer. She is believed to have worked with Ben Lomond High School, and the relationship has been ongoing since at least the fall. The affair was first tipped off to police through an anonymous report of suspicions. Utah’s age-of-consent laws are a little bit complicated, but males must be at least 18-years old to legally consent to sexual activities with someone more than ten years older than them.
Though this is certainly not the first time that this female-on-male statutory rape situation has occurred (these situations almost always seem to involve teacher-student relationships, as in the case of Mary Kay Letourneau), this is the first high-profile situation that I’m aware of in the modern era of abuses involving swim coaches.
Before we get out the pitch-forks, in this case, USA-Swimming has no culpability. The onus to monitor this situation fell squarely on the school district, as it appears that Waite had no involvement with a USA-Swimming Club. The school district claims that they run a background check on all volunteers, just as they would on employees, though a quote to the Standard-Examiner said that they were in the process of pulling her files and investigating if she had other relationships with students, though they have no specific reason to believe that there were. Pictures on the facebook page show her in close contact with young swim. This coach had no history of criminal activity of any sort.
But the warning signs were still there. Waite’s personal MySpace page, which appears to have not been updated in about a year, and facebook profile both are “friends” with several Ben Lomond High School students, though it’s unclear what access those students had to her online activities.
Despite no involvement in the case, USA-Swimming needs to take notice of this situation for two reasons.
Number one, it should remind them to not fall-asleep on the organization’s female coaches. Though these cases are rarer than those involving male coaches, they are also much less likely to be detected or reported as the result of social stigma. This case was even more unusual in it’s ability to demonstrate the diverse backgrounds of offenders in that Waite graduated from Weber State University with a degree in Criminal Justice, and proceeded to earn a Masters in Psychology. She surely was aware of the potential negative consequences that could result from sexual activity involving a teacher-pupil relationship.
Number two is that even though background checks are important (they could’ve prevented a lot, for example, in the Everett Uchiyama case), now that those standards are in place, it’s time to focus on active prevention. It’s not clear, from personal experience, that the gravity of the new rules regarding swimmer-coach relationships has percolated down to the grass-roots level of the everyday swim team.
Information from the police report is published on the Standard-Examiner webpage. Interestingly, the police report includes “cutting scars” as an identifying mark, which implies a history of some psychological problem.