USA Swimming faces lawsuit filed by several alleged victims of sexual abuse

"Stop hiding behind all of your medals and money," said an attorney for the plaintiffs.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Many swimmers can only dream of winning a gold medal during the Olympics. But for some, the swimming pool now symbolizes a nightmare of sexual abuse.

"I don't watch the Olympics," said Suzette Moran. "I don't even like to swim any longer to tell you the truth."

Moran is one of several women to file lawsuits against USA Swimming, alleging sexual abuse at the hands of their swim coaches.

"I was exposed to a world where swim coaches were looking at their underage swimmers as their next conquest," said Tracy Palmero, another one of the plaintiffs.

Palmero claims she was groomed for sexual abuse by her swim coach when she was 14 years old, back in the 1990's. She alerted team officials, and her coach was later forced to resign. But she says team officials didn't do nearly enough to punish him.

"I later learned that USA Swimming's number two person provided a glowing recommendation, helping him secure a job at a nearby country club.

"This news was devastating to me. It was as if they were dismissing everything that happened to me. This is how USA swimming takes care of their predator coaches."

The lawsuits come during a three-year lookback window, in which victims can sue their abusers even if it's past the statute of limitations.

Attorney Robert Allard said USA Swimming has enabled a culture of indifference toward abuse victims.

"Stop hiding behind all of your medals and money," said Allard, who is representing the alleged victims. "These are human beings, beautiful women who were subjected to atrocious acts while placed under your care."

USA Swimming provided the following statement after three alleged victims concluded a news conference held via Zoom Wednesday morning.

"We are aware of the information publicly released today in California. We fully support survivors of sexual abuse along their healing journey. USA Swimming's Safe Sport program continues to work with prominent health and education experts to provide meaningful member resources and SwimAssist funding to those in need. The organization and its current leadership remain committed to providing a safe environment and a positive culture for all its members.

"The three named offenders have long been on USA Swimming's list of Individuals Permanently Suspended or Ineligible for Membership due to the allegations of misconduct from the 1980s and 1990s, and the U.S. Center for SafeSport has recognized and honored our bans."
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