The Worst Offenders

A closer look at swim coaches who abused their athletes

Among youth sports, swimming has experienced an especially large number of sexual abuse cases. (Stanislaw Pytel/iStock)
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Of the 108 people on USA Swimming’s list of individuals banned from the sport, at least 90 were banned for sexual misconduct. Of those, more than 50 have been arrested, charged, or convicted in connection with those crimes. As we reported in our December 2014 feature, the majority of the offenders were allowed to continue coaching for years, despite their misconduct—until 2010, when media exposure forced USA Swimming’s hand and the organization began publishing a list of banned coaches. Over the past three months, Outside examined public records, court documents, and media accounts to shine a light on what 26 of these individuals did. Here’s what we found.

Charles Arabas

sexual abuse usa swimming
(Arizona Department of Corrections)

Banned by USA Swimming: February 18, 2003
Current status: Released; listed on the national sex-offender registry

In 2002, while working as a coach for the Northern Arizona Swimming Association, Arabas was arrested and charged with abusing more than half a dozen teenage girls. Investigators discovered that he had moved to Arizona after being fired from another coaching job, in Missouri, where three female divers had accused him of touching them inappropriately. In 2004, he was convicted on five counts of sexual abuse and four counts of sexual conduct with a minor and sentenced to ten years in prison.


Roberto Caragol

Banned by USA Swimming: February 13, 2009
Current status: Incarcerated, Federal Correctional Institution, Miami

Caragol was an assistant swim coach at the Pine Crest School in Florida, a college preparatory academy. In 2008, he was found guilty of possession and distribution of child pornography and sentenced to 151 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Caragol was apprehended after AOL administrators tipped off the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a Department of Justice group that assists state and local agencies in investigations. Court documents show that Caragol admitted to engaging in sexual activity with minors dating back to 2001.


Dennis Carter

Banned by USA Swimming: March 29, 2013
Current status: Released; listed on the national and Michigan sex-offenders registries

Carter was found guilty in 2007 of one count of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. He had a relationship with a student he’d coached on the Seaholm High School swim team in Birmingham, Michigan. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but released in February 2012.


 

Kevin Chapman

Banned by USA Swimming: June 16, 2008
Current status: Released; listed on the national and Ohio sex-offender registries

A former high school teacher and boy’s swim coach, Chapman was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in 2008 for sexual battery and unlawful sexual contact with a minor, both charges stemming from the statutory rape of a female student in the 1990s. The abuse occurred over the span of a year; the victim was 15 at the time.


Richard Curl

sexual abuse usa swimming richard curl
(Maryland Department of Corrections)

Banned by USA Swimming: September 18, 2012
Current status: Incarcerated, Maryland Correctional Training Center, Hagerstown

Curl was sentenced to 15 years (with eight years suspended) for the sexual abuse of a former swimmer, Kelly Currin, whom he'd known since she was nine. The abuse started with genital touching when Currin was 13 and progressed to intercourse when she was 15. Sexual contact continued until she was 18.


Lincoln Djang

Banned by USA Swimming: January 7, 2000
Current status: Unknown

In 1999, Djang was charged with criminal sexual contact with a minor while he was a swim coach at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, New Mexico. In 2000, Djang was convicted of three counts of aggravated battery and received a suspended sentence of two years and 362 days.


Kenneth Fuller

Banned by USA Swimming: July 31, 2012
Current status: Unknown

In 2013, Fuller was sentenced to up to 23 months in jail and 11 years of probation for a sexual relationship he'd had with a 17-year-old student. Fuller, who had formerly been a teacher in West Chester, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, furnishing alcohol to minors, harassment, and tampering with records. According to the criminal complaint filed against him, Fuller had sex with the student, whom he also coached in swimming, on three occasions. Once, he called the school pretending to be the girl’s father and asking that she be excused from school for a (fabricated) medical appointment.


Brian Hindson

(Indiana Department of Correction)

Banned by USA Swimming: April 4, 2008
Current status: Incarcerated, Federal Correction Institution, Marianna, Florida

From 1988 to 2007, Hindson secretly taped high school swimmers he coached in central Indiana while they showered and changed in the girls' locker room. In 2008, he was convicted of one count of possession of child pornography, four counts of distribution of child pornography, and eleven counts of production of child pornography. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.


Christopher Huott

usa swimming sexual abuse
(Montgomery County Police Department)

Banned by USA Swimming: June 17, 2014
Current status: Incarcerated, Maryland Correctional Institution, Hagerstown, Maryland

In 2014, Huott was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison for child abuse that occurred in the late 1980s, in Montgomery County, Maryland. The victim was a seven-year-old girl he'd coached at the Fairfield Aquatics Center.


Craig Ivancic

Banned by USA Swimming: November 28, 2004
Current status: Unknown

Ivancic was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release in 2005 after attempting to entice a minor to participate in sexual activity. He was arrested when he arranged to meet an FBI agent, who'd posed online as a 14-year-old girl, for the purpose of having sex. Ivancic also admitted to sexual relations with another minor. He was the coach of a youth swim team, the Kansas City Blazers.


Mitch Ivey

Banned by USA Swimming: November 21, 2013
Current status: Unkown

In the 1970s, Ivey, a former Olympic coach, had relationships with two underage swimmers. Though his story was revealed in a 1993 episode of ESPN's Outside the Lines, USA Swimming did not ban Ivey until 2013.


Timothy Kelly

Banned by USA Swimming: October 17, 2009
Current status: Incarcerated, Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix, New Jersey

In 2011, Kelly, a former Attleboro, Massachusetts, YMCA and high school swim coach, pleaded guilty to receipt and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to five years in prison. He admitted to downloading more than 200 images of children engaged in sexual acts.


Andy King

(California Department of Corrections)

Banned by USA Swimming: July 23, 2009
Current status: Incarcerated, Mule Creek State Prison, Ione, California

King coached in clubs up and down the West Coast. In 2010, he was found guilty on 20 counts of child molestation and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He raped more than a dozen young girls, one of whom became pregnant.


Erick Lans

Banned by USA Swimming: March 27, 2013
Current status: On probation; listed on the national and Massachusetts sex-offender registries

Lans was convicted in 2001 of two counts of rape, two counts of indecent assault and battery, and assault with intent to commit rape on four young girls. Lans was the coach of the Seekonk Dolphins swim team. The incidents occurred at the pool and at the home of one of the victims. He was sentenced to eight to ten years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.


Jason Lear

usa swimming sexual abuse
(Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

Banned by USA Swimming: January 15, 2010
Current status: Incarcerated at Wakulla Correctional Institution, Crawfordville, Florida

In 2010, Lear, a swim coach in central Florida, was found guilty of attempted sexual battery, lewd or lascivious battery, and continuous sexual assault of a person under 14. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Donald Mielke

Banned by USA Swimming: June 27, 2014
Current status: Awaiting trial in Walworth County, Wisconsin

In 2014, Mielke, who worked as an official for USA Swimming, was charged with two felony counts of capturing an image of nudity. The criminal complaint filed against Mielke states that he set up a video camera in a bathroom and filmed a child as she showered. According to the Delavan, Wisconsin, police department, the recordings spanned a four-year period.


Noah Rucker

Banned by USA Swimming: January 31, 2013
Current status: Unknown

In January 2013, Rucker was found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and for sexual acts committed with a minor in 2001, while he was the swim coach at James Madison High School in Virginia.

Tucker Smith

Banned by USA Swimming: December 23, 2013
Current status: Listed on the national and Virginia sex-offender registries

Smith was charged with two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child under the age of 18. A former assistant coach at the Hanover County swim club and the Burkwood Aquatic Club, he received a suspended ten-year sentence.

Todd Sousa

usa swimming sexual abuse
(Orange County District Attorney)

Banned by USA Swimming: April 29, 2011
Current status: Released; listed on the national and California sex-offender registries

Sousa was co-owner of Swim Venture, which offered swim lessonsin Laguna Hills, California. In 2011, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to 13 felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, three felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, and two misdemeanor counts, including unlawful sexual intercourse with a child. Sousa was released in 2012, but after new information surfaced that he had molested a second minor in 2009, he served an additional 16 months beginning in 2013.

 

 

Jesse Stovall

sexual abuse usa swimming
(Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

Banned by USA Swimming: October 15, 2009
Current status: Listed on the national sex-offender registry

Stovall, a coach for a youth swim team in Berkeley, California, called Bear Swimming, was found guilty of sexual activity with a child in 2010. He was sentenced to four years probation.

Lorrie John Trites

sexual abuse usa swimming
(Federal Bureau of Investigations)

Banned by USA Swimming: February 25, 2013
Current status: At large; wanted by the FBI

Trites is being sought by the FBI for allegedly videotaping several young women as they changed in the locker room of Franklin and Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Trites was the head swim coach at the college. The videotape showed naked images of swimmers as young as 13. Trites has been a fugitive since 1998.

Everett Uchiyama

Banned by USA Swimming: January 31, 2006
Current status: Unknown

In 2006, Uchiyama admitted to having sex with a minor and resigned from his position as national team director for USA Swimming. He was never charged with a crime, because the statute of limitations had expired. A USA Swimming official later wrote him a letter of recommendation for a position at an aquatic center in Colorado Springs.


Jeffrey M. Vernace

Banned by USA Swimming: April 11, 2005
Current status: Released; listed on the national and Ohio sex-offender registries

Vernace, a youth club swim coach in Missouri, was sentenced to five years in federal prison for attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was arrested by the Boone County sheriff’s department during a sting. Vernace had been posing as “coach13andahalf” in an online chat room, and he arranged to meet with a person he thought to be a 13-year-old girl.

Christopher Wheat

Banned by USA Swimming: December 8, 2009
Current status: Released; listed on the national and Indiana sex-offender registries

In 2010, Wheat, the coach of a swim team in Lawrence, Indiana, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony misconduct with a minor and one count of child solicitation. The victim, a 14-year-old girl, was abused in his office. He was sentenced to nine years in prison but served only 19 months due to a loophole that allows prisoners who obtain college degrees while incarcerated to obtain early release. Wheat used credits earned before his conviction to quickly earn degrees from Oakland City University and Ball State University.

Bryan Woodward

sexual abuse usa swimming
(Florida Department of Corrections)

Banned by USA Swimming: March 7, 2012
Current status: Released; listed on the national and Florida sex-offender registries

In 2012, Woodward (who also spells his last name "Woodard") was found guilty of using the Internet to solicit sex with a minor and traveling to seduce a child to commit sex acts. He was the former coach of the Gator Swim Club in Gainesville, Florida.

Jeffrey Woodyard

Banned by USA Swimming: September 22, 2008
Current status: Paroled; listed on the national and Virginia sex-offender registries

In 2009, Woodyard was found guilty of three counts of using electronic means for procuring minors for obscene activities and three counts of producing child pornography. Woodyard was asking teenage boys to send nude photos via text message and also sending nude photos of himself to minors. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison; all but 12 months were suspended. Woodyard was the manager, lifeguard, and coach at the Nansemond Academy Swim Club in Suffolk, Virginia.

 

 

 

Filed To: Politics / Sports / Culture / Swimming
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