SANTA ANA (CBSLA/AP) – An Olympic swimmer who claims she was sexually abused by her longtime coach for years has filed a lawsuit in Orange County alleging that USA Swimming conspired to hide the coach’s behavior.
Attorneys for 28-year-old Ariana Kukors filed a complaint Monday in Orange County Superior Court against USA Swimming and Kukors’ former coach, Sean Hutchison. She is seeking damages for sexual abuse of a minor, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In February, Kukors publicly accused Hutchison of sexually abusing her starting when she was 16.
Kukors, the 2009 world champion in the 200-meter individual medley — who placed fifth in that event in the 2012 Olympics — accused Hutchison of “grooming” her for sexual abuse when she was 13 and he was her coach at a Seattle-area swim club.
She told authorities that he kissed and touched her when she was 16 and engaged in sexual activity with her when she was 17 at the 2006 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Victoria, British Columbia, the document said.
In her lawsuit, Kukors alleges that she was sexually abused by Hutchison for more than a decade. She told authorities that Hutchison took thousands of sexually explicit photographs of her.
Hutchison, 46, who was an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, said the two were in a relationship after the 2012 Olympics and that she lived in his Seattle home for more than a year.
“I absolutely deny having any sexual or romantic relationship with her before she was old enough to legally make those decisions for herself,” Hutchison said in a statement back in February. “Prior to that time, I did nothing to ‘groom’ her.”
Hutchison has not been charged. In February, U.S. and local authorities seized electronic devices from his Seattle apartment that they said may contain evidence.
In 2010, USA Swimming was rocked by a scandal in which it revealed that sex abuse allegations were mostly to blame for lifetime bans of 46 members. At the time, it said it set up training and enhanced screening for all coaches, officials and volunteers. Hutchison was not one of those banned.
Kukors’ lawsuit names several former USA Swimming officials – including Chuck Wielgus, Mark Schubert, Pat Hogan and Murray Stephens — claiming that they knew as early as 2005 that Hutchison carried on “inappropriate relations with underage swimmers.”
“This lawsuit is about holding responsible those who knew there was underage abuse taking place and did nothing to stop it while going out of their way to protect my abuser,” Kukors said in a news release Monday. “Those at USA Swimming need to change the culture of protecting predator coaches over young and vulnerable athletes such as myself.”
USA Swimming said it hired a private investigator in 2010 after learning of a rumored relationship between Kukors, then 21, and Hutchison, then 39. It said both parties denied a romantic or sexual relationship and the investigation was closed without any violations.
Hutchison left coaching afterward but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of member club King Aquatic near Seattle, the organization said.
A federal investigation into Hutchison began in January when police in the Seattle suburb of Des Moines got a report about sex crimes at its city pool. They were alleged to have occurred between 2002 and 2007.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)