Congress looking into alleged sexual abuse in USA Swimming and other Olympic sports

USA Swimming president Tim Hinchey testifying in front of a House committee.

The president and CEO of USA Swimming, Tim Hinchey, testified Wednesday before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee looking into whether U.S. Olympic organizations have policies and procedures in place to protect athletes given all the recent accusations.

In his prepared testimony, Hinchey admitted his sport has been a big part of the problem since even before the gymnastics scandal.

“USA Swimming apologizes, acknowledges, and deeply regrets the abuse suffered by children, athletes, and other participants in swimming programs. Participation in sport should offer physical, social and emotional benefits, but for some, it has resulted in abuse and trauma that will negatively impact the rest of their lives,” Hinchey said.

On Monday, Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors Smith sued USA Swimming, claiming that the organization knew that her former coach – Sean Hutchison – was sexually abusing her and attempted to mask the scandal.

After Kukors Smith made the accusations public in February, Hutchison released a statement.

“At no time did I ever abuse Ariana Kukors or do anything with her that was not consensual,” he said.

Hutchison has not been charged with any crimes at this time. Hutchison’s lawyer, Brad Meryhew, explained to The New York Times that he and his client had no response to the lawsuit following its filing on Monday. ABC News has reached out to Meryhew and is awaiting further comment.

The one-time world champion alleged that Hutchinson began assaulting her about one decade ago when she was 16 years old. Hutchinson supposedly groomed the athlete for a sexual relationship when she was just 13. She also claimed that her longtime coach, Mark Schubert, was aware of Hutchison's actions but failed to act.

When ABC News reached out to Schubert, he responded with "no comment."

In a previous interview with Swimming World Magazine, Schubert stated that once he became aware of rumors about Hutchison and Kukors Smith, he immediately contacted his superior.

“I heard the rumor in October of 2010 and passed it on to Bill Jewell who was the head coach at FAST,” Schubert said in the interview. “Bill asked me if I knew a private investigator and I did and Bill hired him. It was pretty shocking."

According to Schubert, the investigation discovered only one instance in which the cars of Hutchison and Kukors Smith were parked in front of Hutchison's condo at 5 in the morning.

While Kukors Smith did not testify at Wednesday's hearing, she did appear on ABC News’ Good Morning America on Tuesday.

In that interview, the 2012 USA Olympic Team member claimed that USA Swimming, the chief governing body of the sport, failed to protect her from sexual abuse by Hutchison.

“He stole many things from me, including my swimming career, my college experience, friendships, my virginity and ultimately my Olympic dream,” she said. “Not all athletes will become Olympians but all athletes deserve to feel safe on a pool deck.”

Shortly after Kukors Smith’s civil lawsuit was filed in Orange County Superior Court in California, USA Swimming released a statement.

“We respect Ariana Kukors' bravery in stepping forward and sharing her story," the statement said. "We have been in regular contact with her legal team over the last several months and will continue to work with them and Ariana through this process."

Hinchey assumed his position with the sports organization in July 2017, just months before Kukors Smith went public with the alleged abuse.

This case is not an isolated incident for USA Swimming or other Olympic sports. And the swimming scandal comes after dozens of victims testified they were sexually abused by Larry Nassar while he was a doctor for both the USA Olympic and Michigan State Gymnastics teams.

Nassar was found guilty and received what amounted to a life sentence.

In her opening remarks, Perry addressed the organization’s mishandling of the Nassar case.

“I want to apologize to all who were harmed by the horrific acts of Larry Nassar,” she stated. “I was in the courtroom to listen to the incredibly courageous women explain in vivid and painful detail the damage he did to their lives. Their voices will not be forgotten. I commit to you that I will keep their words and experiences at the core of every decision every day as the leader of this organization.”

The hearing, entitled “Examining the Olympic Community’s Ability to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse,” also focused on the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) efforts to prevent sexual assaults from occurring in any of their 48 National Governing Boards (NGBs) in the future.

“Athlete safety must be the top priority of the USOC,” said oversight and investigations subcommittee chairman Republican Gregg Harper of Mississippi. “Too often, the USOC and NGBs haven’t acted until they were publicly pressured to do so.”

"There appears to be a history of the USOC knowing about allegations of sexual abuse and doing nothing," said GOP Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. "One of the concerns that the committee has heard repeatedly from survivors is that the USOC is more concerned about its own reputation, about medals and money, than it is about athlete safety."

Jamie Davis – CEO of USA Volleyball – and Steve McNally – the Executive Director of USA Taekwondo – also testified on Wednesday.