ABC News Investigations of the Year:


The U.S. Olympic Committee also convened a 10-person task force to address the issue of sexual and physical abuse of youth athletes by coaches, in response to the scandal at USA Swimming. On Sept. 28, the USOC announced it was centralizing and standardizing background checks across all Olympic sports, affecting approximately one million athletes.

Since the investigation, more victims have come forward to tell their stories, and at least two additional former USA Swimming coaches have pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct charges with young swimmers.

"The Coach's Secret" was awarded a 2011 duPont Award for its far-reaching impact.


Government Fines Toyota Over Steering Rod Recall After ABC News Report

When Toyota recalled 330,000 trucks and SUVs in Japan in 2004 to replace steering rods that were prone to breaking under stress, a Toyota official told U.S. regulators that there had been no reports of such problems in the U.S. and thus need to recall similar American Toyotas. Less than a year later, Toyta issued a recall of nearly 1 million U.S. trucks and SUVs to fix the same steering rod defect. But the reversal may have come too late for an 18-year-old high school football player.

In 2007, Levi Stewart died when his Toyota truck crashed near Fairfield, Idaho. Three months after Levi's death, a long-delayed recall notice from Toyota arrived in the mail at the Stewart home. In the worst case, the notice said, the steering relay rod might fracture, causing a loss of vehicle steering control and thus increasing the possibility of a crash.

Levi's father was shocked when he read the notice. "That immediately explained how the wreck happened," said Michael Stewart. "I was just shocked. How could they wait so long to send out a recall on something so important?"

The Stewarts sued Toyota, and during discovery in the case, Toyota turned over 40 previously undisclosed cases where American owners had complained directly to Toyota about steering rod problems before October 2004, when Toyota issued its Japanese steering rod. In a deposition for the Stewart court case, the same Toyota official who had said in 2005 that there was no need to recall U.S. vehicles said under oath that the U.S. complaint information was kept from him by company executives in Japan.

Impact: After learning of the additional cases via ABC News, NHTSA initiated an investigation of Toyota's steering rod recall. In December, NHTSA announced that it was fining the automaker $16 million, the maximum allowed under the law, because it had found that Toyota improperly delayed its recall. Toyota has also confirmed that it is the subject of a criminal investigation by a federal grand jury in New York, which has subpoenaed documents about possible steering rod defects. The Stewart family's civil suit against Toyota is still pending.

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