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Missouri Suit Alleges Sex Abuse in Youth Swimming

Attorneys filed a lawsuit against the governing body of U.S. competitive swimming and a suburban swim coach whom they claim had a sexual relationship with a teenage swimmer.

The claims are the latest against USA swimming, which has come under fire recently for its handling of alleged sexual abuse cases.

The lawsuit filed in a Jackson County, Mo. court accuses Robert D. Mirande groomed the teen for a sexual relationship — even providing her alcohol — and ultimately had ”inappropriate sexual contact” with her between the summer of 2006 and winter of 2007.

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Lynn Johnson, the plaintiff’s attorney, said his client decided she ”couldn’t live with herself” if she didn’t do something to change the ”culture of tolerance” and ”culture of denial.”
The suit alleges that USA Swimming and Aaron Dean, who supervised Mirande as the former head coach of the Kansas City Dolphins swim club in Blue Springs, did not promptly or adequately investigate the claims against him.

The Missouri lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, noting that the alleged victim suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

The suit said that in the spring 2008, Dean was informed that Mirande was grooming another girl for ”inappropriate sexual conduct.”
The suit said that Dean contacted the plaintiff who confirmed that Mirande had an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. Her parents demanded in May 2008 that Mirande be barred from coaching.

Mirande left the Kansas City area in the summer 2008, the suit said.

In September 2008, the plaintiff’s parents had several phone conversations with and sent e-mails to USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus describing what happened to their daughter. But the suit said nothing happened.

That fall Dean left the Kansas City area to become the head swim coach for the Virginia club. He hired Mirande as an assistant coach in July 2009.

The plaintiff’s parents learned that fall that Mirande was coaching again and sent another e-mail to Wielgus asking that he lose his position as a registered coach. But Johnson said nothing happened until a few days after Wielgus was interviewed for a report aired earlier this month on ABC’s prime-time ”20/20” newsmagazine that at least 36 swimming coaches have been banned for life by the USA Swimming organization over the last 10 years because of sexual misconduct.

The governing body for swimming has increasingly facing questions about its handling of alleged sexual abuse cases.

Missouri Valley Swimming, the swimming committee that overseas about 60 clubs in the region, also was named as a defendant. John Dicus, the general chair of the group, said ”no swimmer should ever suffer sexual abuse from anyone involved in USA Swimming” and referred additional questions to USA Swimming.

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