Coach, USA Swimming sued on sex abuse claims

August 11, 2010 6:10:43 PM PDT
For the second time this year, a South Bay woman has come forward accusing her former swim coach of sexual misconduct.

In both cases, the lawsuits accuse USA Swimming of negligence in allowing the abuse to take place. The latest accusations come from 28-year-old Jancy Thompson who began swimming at age 7 and had a promising career with Olympic goals.

Jancy says she now looks at her medals and feels nothing but sadness.

"I think of the abuse. I think of the stress. I think of all the horrible things that happened while competing," she said.

Jancy's lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court accuses swim coach Norm Havercroft of multiple acts of child molestation covering a five-year period starting when Jancy was 15 years old.

Attorney Robert Allard says Havercroft used his coaching position to manipulate his victims and "groomed" them for sexual abuse. In Jancy's case, Allard says the control methods began as early as age 11 when Coach Havercroft literally put a dog collar around Jancy's neck and used a leash when she did laps in the pool.

"She was degraded and humiliated to the worst degree imaginable; treated like a dog by her swim coach setting her up for the abuse that followed in the future," he said.

The lawsuit accuses USA Swimming of covering up the abuse in this case and others. USA Swimming is the governing body of U.S. Competitive Swimming. Attorneys say the organization knew in the 1990's that there were concerns about Havercroft's behavior and did nothing.

In fact, the attorneys say there was a confidential settlement made in 2001 between the swimming group and an earlier victim of coach Havercroft. The attorney's say Havercroft fled his Los Gatos home when San Jose police served a search warrant and went on to continue coaching on the East Coast and now lives in Southern California.

When we contacted USA swimming with questions about this case, the organization sent us a prepared statement that reads in it's entirety: "In fostering an environment where reporting suspected misconduct is not only accepted but expected of all members, we believe it would be detrimental to our efforts to discuss specific cases in the media. We cannot overstate the incredible importance of educating our membership on the topic of abuse and encouraging swift and honest reporting of any suspected misconduct. USA Swimming is not a law enforcement agency, but it does investigate complaints of misconduct in an effort to revoke the membership of any person who engages in inappropriate behavior."

In the last 10 years, USA Swimming has banned 36 coachs, including former San Jose swim coach Andrew King. King was recently sentenced to 40 years in prison for sexually abusing young girls in Santa Clara County and the East Bay.

LINK: Individuals Suspended from USA Swimming for Life


Load Comments