How To Respond When An Athlete Discloses Abuse / USA Swimming

Each Local USA Swimming Committee (LSC) is mandated to have a season ending championships twice a year for both Age Group (younger) and Senior (no age requirement) swimmers. Normally, this style meet is a prelim/final format. Common age groups are 10 and under, 11-12, 13-14, 15 and over, also known as seniors.

In the following 4 Step Program for recording and reporting Sexual Abuse, when a USA Swimming swimmer discloses sexual abuse to an individual, there is no mention in the 4 Step Program of referring the sexually abused swimmer to a independent, non-biased, Doctor, not connected to USA Swimming, for examination and possible treatment, when necessary

There is no mention to report the incident to a legal authority, CPS, DCBS, County Attorney, police and/or state police.

The only official and/or authority mentioned is included in Step 4.: USA Swimming requires that its members promptly report any incident regarding sexual misconduct to USA Swimming ‘Athlete Protection Officer’.

The 1st ever’Athlete Protection Officer’ Susan Woessner, hired Sept. 13, 2010, explained her reporting duties the following manner: “After I receive and review the complaint, the information is handed over to a third-party investigator for further investigation. If the complaint is found to have merit, the National Board of Review (NBOR) takes action. The NBOR is a three-person panel made up of volunteer members, including one athlete member. The NBOR convenes a hearing and hands down a decision. If the panel finds that the member violated the Code of Conduct, that member has 30 days to appeal the decision. In the absence of a successful appeal, the greatest penalty that can be imposed by USA Swimming is suspension for life from our membership. In that case, the individual is added to the Suspended for Life list, which has been made public on our website.”

“To be actionable, a complaint needs to include the name of the individual accused of a Code of Conduct violation and what that violation is. If the complaint involves a minor, the local authorities are alerted.[Exclusive One-Year Update With USA Swimming Athlete Protection Officer Susan Woessner 13 September 2011, Swimming World]

This has the appearance of a middle person filter, not direct reporting, from “anyone with knowledge of an incident of sexual abuse of a minor” to a legal authority and doctor for examination for the determination and treatment of pathology. This is not the prescribed legal course of action, if adjudged to be “failure to report”, not following the mandated course of action in a real time case.

Investigations, hearings and appeals take time but it is this thoroughness that protects the integrity of the process. I recognize that making this phone call (or filling out the web complaint form) can be intimidating, and I truly appreciate those who are willing to come forward and report.

You may find yourself in a situation where a swimmer confides in you that he or she has been sexually
abused by a teacher, family member, another athlete, or even by a coach. If this happens, follow these four steps:

Step 1: Listen.
Do your best to stay calm and let her talk. Don’t pry but you can ask a few questions that will help you understand what

Step 2. Reassure.
Your swimmer may be scared, angry, confused and crying. You can reassure her with a few simple comments like:
“I know how hard this is to talk about.”
“You are very brave for bringing this out.”
“Don’t worry, you are doing the right thing by letting someone know.”
“This isn’t your fault. You’ve done nothing wrong.”
“I’m very sorry this has happened to you.”

Step 3. Protect.
Make sure your swimmer is safe. Do not let the accused person have any further contact with her and tell her you will do
everything you can to keep her safe. Let her know you must share what she has told you with others who can help.

Step 4. Report.
Write down as quickly as you can everything the swimmer shared with you in as much detail as possible, using the
swimmer’s actual words, not your own interpretation.

USA Swimming requires that its members promptly report any incident regarding sexual misconduct to USA Swimming’s
‘Athlete Protection Officer’.

Your Club may also have its own reporting policies and in most states the law requires you to
report suspected abuse to the police or child protection authorities.

If victims, witnesses, coaches, doctors and anyone with knowledge do not REPORT the crime, Child and Youth Athlete Abuse will rampantly continue. Most Reporters surface during victims’ adulthood. Another dynamic, possibly unknown to many, is that some believe sexual activity, alone or in pairs, drives internal naturally secreated athleteic performance hormances and neurontransmitters, testosterne, cortisol, dopamine etc. I do not have evidence to support or refute the claim, but some believe and, as you can imagine, convince others, even if not true.

Child and Youth Athlete Sexual Abuse is a horrific battleground i.e. sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, gonnorrhea, D and C’s, herpes, incompetant cerviix etc. pregnancy.

Government probe of sex abuse prevention in Olympic sports went nowhere, By Will Hobson February 20 2016, Washington Post [Government probe of sex abuse prevention in Olympic sports went nowhere, By Will Hobson February 20 2016, Washington Post ]

GAO Report May 29, 2015 [YOUTH ATHLETES: Sports Programs’ Guidance, Practices, and Policies to Help Prevent and Respond to Sexual Abuse, GAO-15-418: Published: May 29, 2015. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 2015. Government Accountability Office

[USA Swimming is a 400,000-member service organization that promotes the culture of swimming by creating opportunities for swimmers and coaches of all backgrounds to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education.]

[Information Brochure,, Effects of Sexual Abuse, 800.743.6354, Copyright Praesidium 2011 | The information and suggestions contained herein are provided, by Praesidium as a courtesy to its clients. It is not intended to be legal advice. It is provided, “As Is” without warranty, express or implied. The reader assumes all risk for reliance theron.]

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