Under fire for his sport’s handling of sex abuse allegations involving numerous swimming coaches, the CEO of USA Swimming, Tim Hinchey III, admitted in court testimony that he had never read the sport’s Code of Conduct in the three years he held the job.
Hinchey testified in a pre-trial deposition in a case involving a young girl who, beginning at the age of 12, was raped and sexually molested by the head swimming coach at a swim club in Stockton, California. USA Swimming says it is taking action to address the problem.
But in his testimony, Hinchey also admitted he only scant knowledge of the warning signs that sexual predators are “grooming” their victims, as was the case involving the coach in Stockton who is now serving time in prison.
Under questioning by attorney Robert Allard who is bringing the civil suit, was asked: “At any point in time, did you receive any type of training on USA Swimming’s code of conduct?”
“I did not,” Hinchey responded.
“As you sit here today, have you ever reviewed in its entirely, USA Swimming’s code of conduct?” Allard continued.
“I have not” Hinchey responded.
Former Olympic Swimming gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar, founder of Champion Women, called Hinchey’s testimony “appalling,” in an interview with Brian Ross Investigates.
“Other than Michael Phelps and Simone Manuel, I don’t think that there is any bigger story dealing with swimming than all the coaches that they’ve had that have been sexually abused,” Hogshead-Makar said.
“I would think as a leader of an organization, you would at least want him to know what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate, and be able to be conversant with these terms about what’s appropriate boundaries and what is grooming behavior, things like that. Because he’s gonna get questions on how this happened. And for him not to know is stunning.”
USA Swimming says it relies on a so-called SafeSport program designed to teach athletes and their parents what to look for as warning signs of grooming behavior.
When Hinchey testified before Congress earlier last year, he made much of the SafeSport program.
“We have a number of new initiatives underway and are vetting even more. The SafeSport recognized club program will enhance athlete protection efforts at the local level,” he said. “While we cannot change the past, we will learn from it and we will do better. Our commitment to preventing child sexual abuse and providing a safe and healthy environment for our athletes is constant and long-lasting.”
But under questioning by Allard, Hinchey conceded he was not familiar with the warning signs of grooming that parents and swimmers should know.
“Do you know enough about grooming, sir, that it takes place over time?” Allard asked. Hinchey responded: “I’m not familiar with how grooming takes place.”
And when Hinchey was shown training material produced by USA Swimming itself, laying out the warning signs that predators can display in grooming victims, Hinchey again demurred, saying he had never ever read it in the three years he has run USA Swimming.
“This is information which is disseminated by USA Swimming as part of its training program, is it not?” Allard asked. “I have not read it before” said Hinchey.
Allard continued, asking, “Have you ever assessed whether or not pedophiles are particularly attracted to the sport of swimming?”
“I have not,” Hinchey answered.
Again and again, Hinchey admitted his lack of knowledge about the subject saying, “I–I’m just not familiar with all the examples of grooming.”
“Again, I, I don’ t have the expertise to answer that,” he said.
USA Swimming and Tim Hinchey did not respond to requests for comment from Brian Ross Investigates.
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