Another scathing report by the Southern California News Group includes allegations that in 2006 USA Swimming not only failed to keep a banned coach from coaching, but actually provided a recommendation for him to coach kids again.
The report quotes Tracy Palmero and her father, Joe Palmero, who were previously unable to speak publicly due to a non-disclosure agreement they say USA Swimming insisted they sign.
The Palmeros say former coach Everett Uchiyama began a sexual relationship with Tracy when she was a teenager, grooming her from the age of 14 and having sexual relations with her at 17. This was in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Tracy details a ‘grooming’ process similar to that recently alleged by Olympian Ariana Kukors against her former coach Sean Hutchison.
In 2006, her father Joe fought USA Swimming to have Uchiyama banned from the sport. Uchiyama, by then the U.S. national team director, was banned from the sport and fired from that post. But the SCNG report says USA Swimming insisted that the firing and the ban remain behind a non-disclosure agreement that would keep the situation private for all parties.
But two years later, Joe discovered Uchiyama was skirting his ban and working as director of aquatics at the Country Club of Colorado – a facility just five miles from USA Swimming headquarters. The SCNG report says Joe Palmero e-mailed then-executive director Chuck Wielgus to inform him, but suspected Wielgus already knew.
As it turns out, USA Swimming officials didn’t just know Uchiyama was working there – they had highly recommended him for the job without disclosing his lifetime ban. The SCNG report pulls documents from the country club showing that the club had contacted USA Swimming’s Pat Hogan when considering hiring Uchiyama. Hogan said Uchiyama left USA Swimming by “personal choice,” gave him a glowing recommendation and said Uchiyama was eligible to be rehired by USA Swimming. We reported as much back when it all came out in 2010.
Wielgus would at one point call Hogan the most knowledgeable USA Swimming employee regarding the organization’s child protection program. Either that most knowledgeable person didn’t know about a life ban of one of his former co-workers, or lied directly to an employer to allow a banned coach to get another job, according to the documents uncovered by SCNG. Hogan, who came under fire himself for marrying a woman who started swimming for him at age 17, recently resigned from USA Swimming in the immediate aftermath of the SCNG reports alleging the organization had ignored or failed to address hundreds of sexual abuse allegations.
Joe Palmero alerted Wielgus to Uchiyama’s new post, but says Wielgus moved from “cordial but non-committal” to “rude and dismissive” in their ongoing interaction, ultimately refusing to alert the country club about Uchiyama’s ban, according to the SCNG piece. But Palmero continued to fight, and ultimately the USA Swimming Board of Directors agreed to publish not only Uchiyama’s ban, but a list of all permanently banned coaches and officials.
USA Swimming has already seen the resignations of Hogan and Safe Sport Director Susan Woessner, with the latter admitting in her letter of resignation that she had “engaged in kissing” with accused coach Hutchison and then not disclosing that fact when she was involved in investigating his allegedly inappropriate relationship with his swimmer Kukors. Attorney Bob Allard has called for the resignation of those two as well as all the rest of USA Swimming’s top brass.