A Maryland swim coach is facing serious allegations after a former student came forward about prior sexual abuse. The 53-year-old owner of the Maryland Suburban Swim Club is accused of sex offenses and child abuse in connection with the case, which came to light after the alleged victim reported the childhood abuse. Those incidents date back to the 1980s, according to news reports. Authorities say they believe additional victims may come forward in the near future, considering the man’s continuous access to children.
Representatives from USA Swimming, which governs many swim club groups throughout the nation, say that background checks and other protections were not as common during the 1980s. Now, though, coaches are required to go through annual background checks. Those leaders also attend periodic athlete protection courses to ensure the safety of youngsters and help them identify other questionable adults. USA Swimming’s Safe Sport Program strives to reduce the risk of child abuse within the sport; it is not yet clear whether the organization plans to censure the defendant in this case.
Authorities report that the young woman allegedly endured the abuse starting when she was 7 years old. She says the abuse continued for several years. The woman claims that she was forced to engage in sex acts on multiple occasions during her time at the swim club, though news reports have not specified the nature of those acts.
Cases that are brought decades after alleged sexual abuse occurred are often challenging for all parties. It is understandably difficult to provide physical evidence to prove that such assaults occurred. In many instances, these cases come down to “he said, she said” circumstantial evidence. Criminal defendants’ rights need to be protected during such criminal proceedings, as these individuals are vulnerable to judicial decisions that are sometimes driven by the emotional nature of the case instead of a focus on the facts.
Source: The Washington Post, “Montgomery police arrest head of Maryland swim club on child sex abuse charges” Lynh Bui & Dan Morse, Apr. 24, 2014