If there’s anything we’ve learned from the #MeToo movement, it’s that just when you think we’ve heard the final allegation or court ruling regarding sexual misconduct, another horrifying scandal pops up in its place. That seems to be the case once again in the world of sports.
When disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar received his 40 to 175-year sentence for seven counts of criminal sexual misconduct with underage athletes recently, it was perhaps the closest thing we could get to closure on the biggest sports sex scandal since Penn State. But maybe we should have known better. On Tuesday, investigators with Homeland Security searched the Seattle apartment of former U.S. Olympic swimming coach Sean Hutchinson following allegations that he sexually assaulted and took photos of a teen swimmer.
Ariana Kukors, 28, who was a member of the 2012 Olympic team and a 2009 World champion in the 200-meter individual medley, told police Hutchinson sexually assaulted her when she was 16 and continued the abuse until she was 24. She also claimed Hutchinson started grooming her for a sexual relationship when she was just 13 and took nude photos of her when she was 17. Kukors said in a statement on Wednesday she came forward because she was worried Hutchinson may still be abusing children.
"I never thought I would share my story because, in so many ways, just surviving was enough," the statement said. "I was able to leave a horrible monster and build a life I could have never imagined for myself. But in time, I’ve realized that stories like my own are too important to go unwritten. Not for the sake of you knowing my story, but for the little girls and boys whose lives and future hangs in the grasp of a horribly powerful and manipulative person. That they may not have to go through the same pain, trauma, horror, and abuse. That their parents, mentors, and guardians are better able to spot the signs of grooming and realize its tragic consequences before it’s too late."
Hutchinson was known for his somewhat unorthodox coaching methods, as Caroline Burckle, a member of the USA Swimming/FAST training group, explained to The Orange County Register in 2010. "He focuses a lot on the mental side of it, about life, not just about a sport, about becoming great people, not just great swimmers, that your identity is not just about what you do in the pool," she said. "He’s trying to prepare us to set goals in life and not just limiting ourselves to what we do here."
Hutchinson is said to have left the U.S. Olympic team in 2010 when rumors surfaced about a sexual relationship with a swimmer. He did not stop coaching, however. Hutchinson is the sitting CEO of an elite Seattle-area swim team. He was not arrested after Tuesday’s search of his home.