USA Swimming Investigated Hutchison/Kukors In 2010, Statement Confirms

A statement from USA Swimming this morning confirms that the federation received a tip and conducted an investigation into an allegedly inappropriate relationship between coach Sean Hutchison and National Team swimmer Ariana Kukors in 2010.

USA Swimming says it became aware of a rumored relationship between the two based on information from a third party. The federation says it conducted an investigation with a private investigator that included interviews with Hutchison, Kukors and Kukors’ sister Emily. All three “unequivocably” denied the existence of a sexual or romantic relationship at the time, according to USA Swimming.

With the alleged victim (Kukors) denying the complaint, USA Swimming says it had “no basis to conclude that a Code of Conduct violation occurred, and the case was closed.”

Kukors’ attorney Bob Allard confirmed that early investigation. He says the investigation interviewed Kukors, who, “because she was in the midst of an abusive relationship, denied that she was in a relationship with [Hutchison].”

Kukors went public yesterday with allegations that Hutchison began “grooming” her at the age of 13 and sexually abusing her at the age of 16, all while he was her coach. USA Swimming’s full statement on the matter is below:

Ariana Kukors’ recent public statement marked the first time USA Swimming learned of the allegations that Sean Hutchison sexually abused Ariana when she was a minor. Our hearts go out to Ariana and the difficulty she has gone through to reach this point of disclosure. We fully support her in her case for answers and justice and applaud her courage in sharing her story in an effort to empower victims and protect athletes.
“In 2010, USA Swimming became aware of a rumored relationship between Hutchison and then 21-year-old Ariana via a third-party. Based on the information, USA Swimming retained an independent private investigator and conducted a full investigation into the rumor and the possible Code of Conduct violation.
“During the USA Swimming investigation, both Ariana and Hutchison, as well as Ariana’s sister, Emily, unequivocally denied the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship.
“With the denials from both parties, the investigation provided no basis to conclude that a Code of Conduct violation occurred, and the case was closed. Hutchison left coaching shortly thereafter but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of a member club based in Seattle.
“In January 2018, USA Swimming was notified of a Center for Safe Sport case regarding Hutchison and we have proactively sent over the 2010 case file to aid their investigation and support in any possible way.
“Over the last several years, Ariana has worked with USA Swimming as on-camera talent in its digital productions and has truly become a member of the family. We stand by her, and all other victims, in their quest to break their silence and confront their horrific experiences.”

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Kirk Nelson
3 years ago

Considering the timing you’ve got to wonder if USA Swimming essentially told him he was persona non grata even if they were unable to outright ban him.

Steve Nolan
3 years ago

“Ariana Kukors’ recent public statement marked the first time USA Swimming learned of the allegations that Sean Hutchison sexually abused Ariana when she was a minor.”

“In 2010, USA Swimming became aware of a rumored relationship between Hutchison and then 21-year-old Ariana via a third-party. ”

I meeeean, this strains credibility. Assuming that’s their story to cover their asses, but come on.

Coach
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

NOT going to defend USA Swimming on how they handled anything last time this topic blew up a few years back. I have railed against them often. BUT – in 2010 they learned of allegations of a 21 yr old with Hutchison. This current story actually WAS the first time USA Swimming – or anyone publicly – learned of allegations that he abused her as a MINOR.

Kirk Nelson
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Not really. The key bit is “…when she was a minor.”

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Kirk Nelson
3 years ago

I think they have a responsibility to go farther than they did. They knew of those rumors when she was 21. He’d been her coach for the prior 7 years. To not consider that history seems awfully shortsighted, especially given the claim that they “conducted a full investigation.”

I know a bit of this is hindsight now that the populace in general is a bit more educated when it comes to this stuff, but jeez.

Tea rex
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

A rumor is one thing, but if no one is pressing charges, it’s hard to act on them, even if you think it would be the right thing to do.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Hi, everybody – read her full statement and get back to me. Or, ya know, maybe just this part:

In January of 2011, USA Swimming investigated the claims made against Sean and myself. The extent of my part in the investigation was me spending a few minutes on the phone with a private investigator. 19 questions I counted. I was scared. I lied. I had never felt more alone in all my life.

Several weeks later, USA Swimming aggressively closed the book on the investigation, putting out a public statement saying they had found no wrongdoing, and calling rumors about Sean “malicious lies.”

They can say what they said, legally, maybe. Their investigation was still wholly inadequate.

coachymccoachface
3 years ago

I’m not sure there was much more USA Swimming could do if she and her sister denied a relationship. Makes it a little interesting that the lawyers statement portrayed USA Swimming in a negative light. Is attacking USA Swimming a way to get more publicity on the case or does Ariana actually feel she was wronged by USA swimming?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  coachymccoachface
3 years ago

I think part of it boils down to how inadequate the system is.

“Hey, did you guys do the crimes? No? OK, we’re cool.”

Snarky
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Steve. That comment shows how little you understand the current board of review process. A victim cannot justice if they deny abuse. You can’t force someone to tell the truth. Ariana was clearly in a difficult position. She’d been groomed from a young age, was in a relationship with a coach she trusted and obviously had feeling for on some level, and was likely worried that admitting that there was a relationship would ruin her chances of making the team. The process is a good one and I am sure that the allegations were investigated seriously. What do you expect? Should we waterboard the victim to get her to admit abuse?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Snarky
3 years ago

I understand what the system is and was. It’s still a bad system that needs to work more proactively than retroactively. (It’s better now than when Kukors was first interviewed.)

KeithM
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Steve look up the Rianda case which details allegations about the investigation into the rumored relationship between Kukors and Hutchison.

Sarah
3 years ago

That is an impressive statement from USA swimming just released.

Ferb
3 years ago

If “retain(ing) an independent private investigator and conduct(ing) a full investigation” consisted of interviewing the three people mentioned, I don’t think USA Swimming hired a very good private investigator.

Abuse
3 years ago

USA Swimming does nothing and does not want to get involved. One of our local coaches has been reported to USA swimming for verbally abusing swimmers on multiple occasions. The USA swimming employee said she could not get involved because she was the coaches former swimmer.

SwimPhan
3 years ago

Normally USA Swimming is vigilant about any misconduct and has issued numerous lifetime bans just last year. This one must have been under the radar. But likely prompted by the lax standards USA Gymnastics experienced with Dr. Nasser and those victims.

meeeeee
Reply to  SwimPhan
3 years ago

Remember that this investigation was at about the same time that all the sexual misconduct allegations within swimming was coming to light. Chuck Wieglus’ infamous 60 Minutes interview was in 2010. They were just starting to realize the size and importance of the issue. Its possible this investigation is not what it might have been if performed today.

Swimmer A
3 years ago

Did anyone read this story hyperlinked from the first article on this? The story has the largest red flags I have ever seen. And maybe it’s in hindsight, but I feel like everyone just kinda tried to sweep this one under the rug instead of dealing with it head on.

http://www.espn.com/olympics/swimming/news/story?id=5968065

SwimForFun
Reply to  Swimmer A
3 years ago

Yep the worst parts are the comments from Bill Jewell (who 3 years later is banned, https://swimswam.com/bill-jewell-handed-three-year-ban-no-evidence-to-support-inappropriate-sexual-touching/)

“I brought these issues to Sean’s attention, and Sean denied these things,” Jewell said. “I, in turn, was relieved with his denial. But still, I’m a guy running this club and I’ve got rumors flying around out there. I’ve got parents saying, ‘Is my child safe in your place?’ I have to address these kind of issues.”

The American Swimming Coaches Association code of ethics says a member should never use the influence of his or her position to encourage an intimate relationship with an athlete or engage in sexual relations with one of his or her swimmers… Read more »

Swimmer A
Reply to  SwimForFun
3 years ago

Yea I agree. He didn’t make any real attempt to report the rumors or dig further to ensure the safety of his own swimmers. He kind of just passed the problem along, despite saying that he was really concerned about the accusations. Maybe that kind of negligence would fly a decade ago but in 2018 it’s not enough just to plead ignorance on issues like this.

Snarky
Reply to  Swimmer A
3 years ago

That was the old guard speaking. “I think he’s bad news, so please leave.” Washed my hands of that. Next club’s problem not mine….

Swimmer A
Reply to  Snarky
3 years ago

Haha yea, that pretty much nails it

BigBoi
Reply to  SwimForFun
3 years ago

Pfff. ASCA…what a crock.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Swimmer A
3 years ago

Jeesh, Bill Jewell for sure didn’t want him around anymore.

beachmouse
Reply to  Swimmer A
3 years ago

“where he coached an elite team that included Katie Hoff, Ariana Kukors and the now-retired Margaret Hoelzer.”

Hoelzer began speaking in public about the childhood sexual abuse she suffered in 2009. I wonder if she saw something she didn’t think was right at FAST and was the one who reported it to USAS.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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