Rick Curl receives lifetime ban from USA Swimming


Former Curl-Burke swim coach Rick Curl, shown here in a 1998 file photo. Curl was banned for life by USA Swimming on Wednesday in the wake of revelations of a 1980s abuse case involving an underage girl. (James A. Parcell /The Washington Post)
September 19, 2012

Rick Curl, founder of the Washington area’s most prominent swim club, was banned for life by USA Swimming in the wake of this summer’s revelation that Curl had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old swimmer in the 1980s.

Curl, 62, had accepted a provisional suspension from USA Swimming on Aug. 1 and was set to have a hearing before the National Board of Review on Wednesday, but waived his right to a hearing. According to a statement released Wednesday on USA Swimming’s Web site, Curl voluntarily gave up his membership and was added to USA Swimming’s list of banned individuals, which is posted on the organization’s Web site.

The ban was first reported by the Associated Press. Curl’s attorney, Thomas J. Kelly, Jr., did not return a call seeking comment.

In July, Kelly Davies Currin, who swam for Curl in the 1980s, told The Post that Curl molested her for four years beginning when she was 13 and he was 33. In 1989, Currin and her parents signed an agreement with Curl in which the family agreed not to pursue criminal charges or disclose the abuse in exchange for $150,000.

Currin was informed of the lifetime ban early Wednesday morning, according to her attorney Robert Allard. Currin issued a statement through Allard.

“I am happy to hear that Rick Curl may finally be starting to accept responsibility for what he did to me,” she said. “I can now only hope that USA Swimming will accept responsibility for refusing to ban Rick Curl when they had knowledge to do so.”

In a phone interview, Allard said Currin “feels vindication in her early 40s she should have felt as a teenager,” and that this is just the “first step she would like to see accomplished.”

Allard said they are exploring direct legal action against USA Swimming and will reach out to Congress to ask for hearings into the affairs of the national organization.

“Analogous to Penn State, she would like to inquire as to what was known by USA Swimming about Rick Curl and when,” Allard said. “And to pursue cover-up charges against USA Swimming so that those who knew and did nothing can be removed from office and or criminally prosecuted in their own right. This is the first layer of the onion that needs to be done. This by no means is the end of the story.”

Curl, the 1994 American Swimming Coaches Association Coach of the Year, has been a member of the U.S. national team coaching staff. He coached Tom Dolan to three medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

In recent years a handful of lawsuits have been filed against USA Swimming by youth swimmers who allege that adult coaches abused them. USA Swimming has since instituted an awareness program, mandatory background checks and other safeguards, including requiring that its members report any inappropriate activity.

The ban comes one day after the swim club Curl founded in 1978, Curl-Burke, announced it was re-launching under a new name, the Nation’s Capital Swim Club. According to a news release, the club has more than 2,000 swimmers at 15 facilities across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. In recent years, Curl had functioned mostly as the club’s chief executive rather than as an on-deck coach, according to coaches at the club.

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