Less than six months after being inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) Hall of Fame, legendary coach Joe Bernal has apparently been removed from the Hall of Fame for alleged inappropriate sexual misconduct. Bernal is also banned from USA Swimming.
Bernal coached Olympic gold medalist swimmer David Berkoff. Berkoff later served on the USA Swimming Board of Directors. Despite promising to expose and expunge coaching sex abuse within his organization, Berkoff's tenure was plagued by sex abuse scandals.
Bernal is an founder of the Gator Swim Club. He ran it for 45 years before selling it earlier this year, just a few weeks before he was banned by USA Swimming. He also served as head coach at Harvard University.
USA Swimming Response
A USA Swimming spokesperson reportedly stated that Bernal was banned because he had violated the organization's explicit rules on sexual harassment, which prohibit “any sexual contact or advance or other inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards an athlete by a coach ... ” and “Any inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards a member by any other adult participating in any capacity whatsoever in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming ...”
The American Swim Coaches Association also removed Bernal from their Hall of Fame. He had been a member since September 2015. Fordham University took the same action. Bernal coached at Fordham from 1966 to 1978. He was inducted into the Fordham Hall of Fame in 2009.
Two years ago, the United States Olympic Committee announced that it would create an investigative body to handle coaching sex abuse compalints. Two years have passed since then, and nothing has been done.
Contact a Law Firm that Represents Sex Abuse Victims
Turn to the law firm of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard if you are a victim of USA Swimming coaching abuse. Attorney Robert Allard was the first to expose the organization's cover-up of sexual abuse complaints. He continues to fight for victims and hold the organization accountable for its inaction. Call 408-289-1417 for a free and confidential consultation.