Attorneys representing six once-aspiring Olympic swimmers announced a series of lawsuits against USA swimming Wednesday, including one in Orange County, alleging the women were sexually abused as teenagers by their coaches.
“All of these victims are coming forward 30 years later to hold USA Swimming accountable for the hundreds of young women that have been sexually abused by a culture that condones the predatory behavior of coaches,” attorney Robert Allard said. “All of these women were abused by coaches who were enabled by man people still in leadership roles with the organization.
“These women want a full-blown investigation into their cases and a lifetime ban for those that covered up for the coaches,” he said.
USA Swimming officials could not be reached for comment on the suits.
Two of the lawsuits were filed in Alameda County, and the third in Orange County.
The Orange County suit alleges that an aspiring swimmer named Tracy Palmero was sexually abused in 1990 by Everett Uchiyama, then a coach at SoCal Aquatics in Tustin. According to the lawsuit, Uchiyama began grooming Palmero, now 46, when she was just 14, and was sexually abusing her by age 16.
Attorneys for Palmero, who took part in a Wednesday news conference announcing the lawsuits, contend that Uchiyama began working at the Tustin club after being banished from a previous swim club for similar conduct. Uchiyama was later promoted to the head of the U.S. National Team, but he resigned in 2006 after Palmero came forward with her allegations.
The lawsuit claims that Uchiyama’s resignation was part of an agreement that allowed USA Swimming to remove him from his post “without public scrutiny.” It also claims that after Uchiyama’s departure, a USA Swimming official gave him a glowing job recommendation, allowing him to obtain a position at a Colorado country club.
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