USA Swimming Hit With Another Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Former Olympic hopeful swimmer says California coach began molesting her at 15.

August 11, 2010, 5:01 PM

August 11, 2010— -- In a sexual abuse scandal that continues to escalate, a new lawsuit against USA Swimming alleges the organization had knowledge of sexual misconduct by a California swim coach and continued to allow him to coach children.


The suit was filed by Jancy Thompson, a former Olympic hopeful who alleges that her former swim coach Norm Havercroft at West Valley swim club in San Jose, CA began sexually molesting her when she was 15-years-old. Also named as defendants are Havercroft, West Valley, and Pacific Swimming, the regional swim organization under USA Swimming.

"What I've gone through has been absolute hell," Thompson said. "I was robbed of a normal childhood and never performed to my full potential."

Sources say that USA Swimming attorneys and insurance brokers attended a mediation session with another alleged victim of Havercroft's in 2002, which ended in a confidential civil settlement with Havercroft. Documentation obtained by ABC News shows two mediation sessions in the case held that year. In a discovery document from a 2009 sexual abuse lawsuit against USA swimming involving another coach, the organization denied having any knowledge that Havercroft had "inappropriate relations" with any swimmers.

"At least two parents of swimmers contacted USA Swimming and/or Pacific Swimming about Havercroft's inappropriate behavior," [that they had heard about] Thompson's attorney Robert Allard said. "They were told that USA Swimming was aware of him, that they had a file on him, but that there was nothing they could do about him."

CLICK HERE to follow the ABC News Investigative Team's coverage on Twitter.

USA Swimming and Pacific Swimming did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to the Associated Press, USA Swimming declined to comment on the case, "but said it investigates misconduct complaints and revokes membership if someone's behavior is inappropriate."

Havercroft could not be reached by ABC News despite several attempts.

An ABC News "20/20" investigation in April revealed that 36 USA Swimming coaches had been banned for life because of alleged sexual misconduct, prompting the organization to promise to reform its child protection measures.

WATCH PART 1 of the 20/20 investigation.

WATCH PART 2 of the 20/20 investigation.

Alleged Sexual Abuse by USA Swimming Coach

Jancy Thompson alleges the sexual abuse began when she was 15, four years after Havercroft became her coach. She said it continued until she left on a swimming scholarship to Arizona State in 2000.

Thompson said the alleged abuse included physical touching that occurred mostly in hotel rooms while away at swim meets and lewd online messaging.

In a 1997 San Jose police investigation after one of Thompson's teammates alleged sexual abuse by Havercroft, Thompson denied any inappropriate behavior by Havercroft towards her or other swimmers, which she now says she said out of fear.

"I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer; how could I say something if I was wanting and yearning to be that good" Thompson told ABC News. "No one would believe me. I didn't realize at that time that a coach-athlete relationship should not be like that."

She says she was prompted to go to San Jose police in 2003 when she finally told a friend what had happened to her and "decided that I had to come forward and say something."

Sources say that there were two separate police investigations into Havercroft stemming from Thompson's complaint and that of the other swimmer, neither resulting in a criminal indictment. The San Jose Police Department would not immediately comment on the cases.

After her swimming career ended, Thompson became a San Jose police officer and now works in the area of gang prevention with a community organization there. She has two young children, neither of whom she said she would allow to competitively swim because of her experience.

CLICK HERE to follow the ABC News Investigative Team's coverage on Twitter.

"I hope that I can help prevent future swimmers from having to go through what I went through," she said.

Today's lawsuit is the fifth facing USA Swimming in alleged sexual misconduct cases. Allard is also representing another plaintiff in a separate lawsuit against USA Swimming, a victim of former San Jose-area swim coach Andy King, who was sentenced in January to 40 years in prison for decades of abuse perpetrated against young swimmers.


Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events