Lawsuits charge Olympian and former coach Mitch Ivey, former coach and USA Swimming National Team Director Everett Uchiyama, along with convicted serial molester and former coach Andy King with sexual abuse.
The law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard has filed three separate sexual abuse lawsuits on behalf of six former Olympic hopeful swimmers. The complaints allege that USA Swimming enabled these coaches’ predatory behavior despite knowing their prior history of abusing young swimmers.
Two of the lawsuits were filed in Alameda County, and the third lawsuit was filed in Orange County. All of the complaints were brought forth under the new California law, AB 218, which allows older victims of sexual abuse to sue. All six women were abused more than 30 years ago.
In one of the cases filed in Alameda County, Suzette Moran alleges that her former Concord Pleasant Hill Swim Club coach and Olympian Mitch Ivey, impregnated her she was 17-years-old and pressured her to have an abortion. As a result, Moran's dream of making the 1984 Olympic team was cut short.
"Mitch Ivey had no reason being around young swimmers," attorney Robert Allard said. "USA Swimming knew that six years earlier, in 1978, Ivey impregnated another 17-year-old swimmer while coaching at the Santa Clara International Swim Club."
In another case filed in Alameda County, four sexual abuse victims of former coach and convicted child molester Andy King are also filing a lawsuit. Debra Grodensky is one of the four victims, abused by King in 1980 as an 11-year-old. Grodensky's 1984 Olympic dreams also died as King's abuse drove her away from the sport that she loved.
"USA Swimming knew that Andy King was a pedophile," Allard said. "A smoking-gun communication from the head of USA Swimming confirmed that the organization asked local swim officials to keep sexual abuse allegations secret and to cover up for King's criminal conduct."
The third lawsuit was filed in Orange County, alleging that former SOCAL Aquatics coach Everett Uchiyama sexually abused a then young teen by the name of Tracy Palmero in 1990. Palmero was 14-years-old when Uchiyama began the sexual grooming process. By age 16, he was sexually abusing her.
The lawsuit alleges that Uchiyama arrived at the Tustin-based swim club after being forced to leave his previous club for similar conduct. Uchiyama would later be promoted as the head of the USA National Team but resigned in 2008 after Palmero reported to USA Swimming. Uchiyama admitted to the abuse by signing a secret agreement. Later that year, USA Swimming's number two person, gave Uchiyama a glowing recommendation for a job at a nearby county club. Uchiyama eventually became the country club’s aquatics director again giving him unfettered access to children.
"All of these victims are coming forward 30 years later to hold USA Swimming accountable for the hundreds of young women that have been sexually abused by a culture that condones the predatory behavior of coaches," Allard said. "All of these women were abused by coaches who were enabled by many people still in leadership roles with the organization. These women want a full-blown investigation into their cases and a lifetime ban for those that covered up for the coaches."