published Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Swim coach banned for life in sex abuse case

PAUL NEWBERRY

USA Swimming banned coach Rick Curl for life for an improper relationship with a teenage swimmer in the 1980s.

Curl, who ran one of the nation's largest swim clubs near Washington, D.C., and coached 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan, was scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the National Board of Review. But he informed the governing body he was waiving his right to challenge the case.

Curl voluntarily gave up his membership and will be added to USA Swimming's list of banned individuals, which is published on the organization Web site.

The coach was accused of starting a relationship with a 13-year-old female swimmer in the 1980s. Kelley Davis Currin said she received a $150,000 settlement from Curl not to go to law enforcement with details of the illicit four-year relationship, but decided to come forward after the sport was rocked by a sexual abuse scandal two years ago.

Dozens of coaches have been involved in improper relationships with underage swimmers, prompting USA Swimming to launch a new safe sport program that includes mandatory training and enhanced criminal background checks for all non-athlete members. Critics say the sport still promotes a culture of secrecy and has demanded that the top leadership be replaced, including executive director Chuck Wielgus.

The Curl-Burke Swim Club had 10 sites in the Washington area, but Curl is no longer associated with it. The club issued a news release Tuesday saying it had changed its name to Nation's Capital Swim Club, according to media reports.

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