USA Swimming, Coaches Sued by Swimmer for Alleged Sexual Abuse

Swim coaches

Another USA Swimming coach was accused of sexual misconduct with a teen female swimmer in a lawsuit filed against the coach and the swimming organization, which is the governing body for the U.S. Olympic swim team and hundreds of competitive swim teams around the country.

The suit, filed in a state court in Jackson County, Missouri, alleges that between the summer of 2006 and the winter of 2007, the coach, Robert Mirande, "groomed" the young woman resulting in "inappropriate sexual contact" when she turned 18.

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The USA Swimming code of conduct prohibits coaches from engaging in sexual relationships with swimmers under their direction. The suit alleges USA Swimming, despite being informed of the alleged sexual misconduct, allowed Mirande to move to a different state where he currently coaches other swimmers. Mirande is now a swim coach in suburban Washington, D.C.

Mirande told he had not yet seen the lawsuit. Earlier, Mirande strongly denied any sexual relations with the young woman.

In a statement released today, USA Swimming said: "We have been investigating this matter for the last three months.

"Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain critical information from the individual bringing forward the complaint, although other individuals with whom our investigator has spoken have been quite helpful," the statement continued. "Because we take allegations of coach misconduct very seriously, we have notified local law enforcement authorities. Our top priority remains ensuring the safety of our membership, and in that regard, it is our hope that this case will provide the details we've been seeking in order to carry out our review process."

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The lawsuit claims USA Swimming "failed to enact and enforce adequate policies, procedures, regulations, and requirements to protect member athletes from inappropriate sexual contact" by coaches and "failed to timely investigate the reported incidents" of the alleged sexual misconduct with the swimmer, according to the suit.

USA Swimming told ABC News earlier this month it is investigating the allegations of sexual misconduct by Mirande towards "L.A.S." and said the coach vigorously denied the claims.

As reported in a recent ABC News investigation, some 36 coaches have been banned for life by USA Swimming over the last decade because of alleged sexual misconduct with swimmers. In one case, a California swim coach, Andy King, was found to have sexually abused more than a dozen swimmers over 30 years in several different cities. King was sentenced to 40 years in prison this year.

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WATCH PART 1 of the 20/20 investigation.

WATCH PART 2 of the 20/20 investigation.

The Missouri lawsuit accuses Mirande of using his trust and authority as a coach to perpetrate "sexual grooming, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual abuse" of the swimmer, whose parents said the relationship was not reported to police because she was no longer a minor.


USA Swimming's Code of Conduct

The lawsuit says another defendant, Aaron Dean, who is named as Mirande's former immediate supervisor and is currently a registered USA Swimming coach working with Mirande at a Virginia swim club, "knew or should have known of Mirande's acts of inappropriate sexual conduct" and therefore "acted in consort, aided, abetted and/or encouraged" Mirande's violation of USA Swimming's Code of Conduct which prohibits sexual contact between coaches and athletes.

Dean said he had not been served with the lawsuit, but "adamantly" denied the charges as described to him by ABC News. "I am interested in learning more about the suit, who filed these erroneous claims and what they are seeking from me," he said in an e-mail message.

Also named as defendants are Missouri Valley Swimming, one of the country's 59 local swim committees, and the local swim club Kansas City Dolphins, for, among other allegations, failing "to provide an environment that is safe and free from inappropriate conduct from registered US Swimming coaches." The general manger of the Kansas City Dolphis, Robert Sturman, said he had not been served with the lawsuit and was unaware of its allegations.

Shortly after the ABC News report, USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said he was "extremely sorry if our organization has not done enough to provide the highest level of child protections safeguards and guidelines."

Wielgus announced that the organization is working to establish an anonymous abuse reporting hotline for swimmers and is considering a 'Black List,' which would publish the names of USA Swimming coaches banned for sexual misconduct.


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