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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KeithM
4 years ago

Schubert took it seriously enough that he hired a private investigator who may have done more than ask questions. When the Rianda case at Golden West was in the news this information surfaced. The investigator was accused of spying and “stalking” Kukors and Hutchison which many people in the online swimming community at the time roundly criticized as an invasion of their privacy. If the investigator did engage in such conduct then it went much further than questioning the concerned parties. This was lambasted (in 2013) by many as going too far. Now it seems in the view of some they didn’t do enough. It appears that perspective has somewhat been flipped on it’s head. Along with Shubert’s disastrous and… Read more »

anonymous
Reply to  KeithM
4 years ago

In court Schubert’s testimony was different. He testified that it was Jewell who hired the investigator.

KeithM
Reply to  KeithM
4 years ago

https://swimswam.com/schubert-former-usa-swimming-olympic-team-coach-sued-for-protecting-swim-coach-from-sex-abuse-charges/

Not that this paints Schubert or USA Swimming in any kind of flattering light (an understatement) but the investigation may have been more than just asking a few questions.

KeithM
Reply to  KeithM
4 years ago

It would be interesting to know what that “incriminating evidence” is (if it exists) because that would certainly show that someone knew.

I_Said_It
4 years ago

Crazy idea, and I know I’m pretty much on the fringe on this but hear me out…

DO NOT ENGAGE IN ANY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR ATHLETES!!!!!

Strange concept, I know but clearly some coaches are having an issue with it.

marklewis
4 years ago

Ariana’s attorney is blaming USA Swimming. But Ariana was not truthful when they questioned her when they investigated.

“Kurkors’ attorney Robert Allard said USA Swimming found out about Hutchison’s abuse of Kurkors in 2010 and did nothing to stop it.
“If this organization had immediately reported what it knew to authorities, Hutchison likely would have been stopped, Ariana would have been spared years of abuse, and countless other young girls would have been protected from this sexual predator,” Allard said.

Oldswimmer
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Mark, what one needs to understand is why she wasn’t truthful at the time….victims protecting their abusers….stockholm syndrome etc….it is perfectly understandable that she wasn’t able to come forward at that time because this is classic behavior of this type of situation.

Joe Bagodonuts
Reply to  Oldswimmer
4 years ago

OLDSWIMMER – And, with the benefit of hindsight, all seems readily apparent to those learning of her allegations now.

Swimming Fan
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

These matters are typically very nuanced and complicated and hindsight is always 20/20. I’m not sure that I follow what the attorney is trying to say. By 2010, Ariana was an adult so whatever was going on at the time was by all appearances a relationship between two consenting adults. Unless USA Swimming had evidence that the relationship started when Ariana was below the age of legal consent, there would be nothing for them to report to the authorities. To further complicate matters, USA Swimming apparently did investigate the matter; however, when questioned, Ariana, her sister and Hutchison and all denied that anything was going on. As most law enforcement authorities will tell you, it’s difficult to prosecute a crime… Read more »

James
Reply to  Swimming Fan
4 years ago

Age of consent is completely irrelevant to this discussion. He’s a coach, she’s his swimmer. It’s a line you just don’t cross.

Justin Wright
Reply to  James
4 years ago

I mean, not condoning such behavior at any level ever, but I think it is a different thing when it occurs past the age group swimming level. Look at Katinka Hosszu for example. She is actually married to her coach. Besides not being able to separate work from personal life, this didn’t seem to be an issue for most. At the level of swimming it occurred at, it is a matter of opinion whether or not you can’t cross that line. So I’ll have to side with “Swimming Fan” here in that unless USA swimming had evidence that the relationship started when Ariana was below the age of legal consent, there would be nothing for them to report to the… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Justin Wright
4 years ago

Yeah, but look at the age differences in your two examples. Hosszu/Tusup were peers are USC and are barely a year apart in age, Kukors was 13 when she started swimming for the 31 year old Hutchinson.

I mean, even if Kukors and Hutchinson were to start a relationship now (at 28 and 46, respectively) it’d still be sort of skeevy given the circumstances around when they first met.

Edit: So I mean, I agree some of this stuff is always coming to come down to opinion. (“Half your age plus seven” doesn’t apply when you’re a coach.) But I’d hope that if allegations arise of a relationship b/w a 21 year old and a 38 year old that… Read more »

Justin Wright
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

I’ll agree with that. My point wasn’t to say there were no suspicious circumstances in this specific case. Just that these issues can be very situational and that is part of what makes investigations so difficult. Now as for this specific case, USA swimming could have done better, but it seems they have better policies in place now in 2018 for handling these sorts of things. I have little doubt that a crack down from USA swimming will follow in the wake of these allegations, no matter the outcome.

Joe Bagodonuts
Reply to  James
4 years ago

While it is not the be-all/end-all of the inquiry, the applicable state law relative to the age of consent is not “completely irrelevant.” There are elements of criminal conduct to the allegations and policy/rules violations related to the coach-swimmer relationship.

Ferb
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Kukors’ attorney seems to be laying the groundwork for a suit/settlement against USA Swimming, and USA Swimming seems to be laying the groundwork for their defense.

Korn
Reply to  Ferb
4 years ago

Allard has always wanted to stick it to usa swimming. I don’t trust the guy. If Kukors didn’t file a complaint back then, then usa swimming had their hands tied.

Swim Mom
Reply to  Ferb
4 years ago

The attorney for USA swimming should look into Ariana’s mother role in all this. Ariana, instead of reporting the alleged “abuse” , first denied everything and then she moved in with whom she now refers as the “abuser” and the mother knew it, visited them and allowed a younger daughter to move in with Ariana and the “abuser”! Ariana and the coach lived together, once Ariana was an adult, how is anyone supposed to suspect abuse under those circumstances? Especially when Ariana’s mother was aware and OK with it!

Swim Mom
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Plus Ariana’s MOTHER knew of this “relationship” – another article states Ariana’s mom visited her place, the one she shared with Hutchinson, and that the younger sister lived with Ariana and Sean! So in my opinion, if USA swimming is found guilty of anything, then the mother should share that guilt. And again in my opinion, if legally speaking, they can get the coach for his relationship with an adult Ariana, then Ariana’s mom should also be convicted….. accesory to sexual assault! The mother is as guilty as the coach imo. In fact, the mother is the worse offender…. isn’t a mom supposed to protect her kid? If Ariana was in an inappropriate relationship as an adult, the mother should… Read more »

Swimmer A
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 years ago

Haha yea, that pretty much nails it

BigBoi
Reply to  SwimForFun
4 years ago

Pfff. ASCA…what a crock.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Swimmer A
4 years ago

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

beachmouse
Reply to  Swimmer A
4 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.

SwimPhan
4 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
4 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.

Abuse
4 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.

Ferb
4 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.

Sarah
4 years ago

That is an impressive statement from USA swimming just released.

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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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