Ex-Olympic swim coach accused of sex abuse faces home search
SEATTLE — Investigators have searched the Seattle home of a former U.S. Olympic swimming coach amid allegations that he sexually abused and took explicit photos of an Olympic swimmer when she was underage.
U.S. Homeland Security task force investigators and police in Washington state recovered electronic devices they say may contain evidence from Sean Hutchison's Seattle apartment Tuesday, the SeattlePI reported .
He is accused of taking nude photos of Ariana Kukors when she was 17 and faced an investigation more than a decade ago, but its outcome is not clear. Hutchison, 46, who was an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and resigned the position two years later, didn't respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.
The investigation comes amid scrutiny over the supervision of people who work with young athletes. Former sports doctor for USA Gymnastics, Larry Nassar, was sentenced recently to decades in prison for sexual abusing young girls in his care. The case led to a reckoning for the gymnastics governing body, with top executives resigning and the entire board of directors planning to step down as requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In the case in Washington state, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation on Jan. 30 following a report from Kukors, the 2009 world champion in the 200-meter individual medley who placed fifth in that event in the 2012 Olympics, according to the court documents.
Kukors, now 28, said in a statement Wednesday that she went to police to report that Hutchison sexually assaulted her on trips and while training at Seattle-area pools. She told investigators that Hutchison used his position as her longtime coach to “groom her” for sexual abuse.
The Olympian said the grooming started at age 13 when he became her coach at King Aquatics, a Seattle-area swim club. She claims Hutchison started sexually abusing her when she was 16.
Kukors said she came forward to empower other victims.
“I never thought I would share my story because, in so many ways, just surviving was enough,” Kukors wrote. “But in time, I've realized that stories like my own are too important to go unwritten. Not for the sake of you knowing my story, but for the little girls and boys whose lives and future hangs in the grasp of a horribly powerful and manipulative person.
“That they may not have to go through the same pain, trauma, horror and abuse. That their parents, mentors and guardians are better able to spot the signs of grooming and realize its tragic consequences before it's too late,” she said.
A spokesman for Kukors' California attorney, Robert Allard, declined an interview request Thursday with Kukors and referred to the statement released Wednesday.
In a search warrant affidavit, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent said investigators responded to claims that Hutchison took sexually explicit photos of Kukors more than a decade ago.
Hutchison was a U.S. Olympic swimming coach in California at the time, a position from which he resigned in 2010 amid speculation that he was sexually involved with a swimmer. He denied it at the time, saying “there is no truth to that,” and insisting his departure was a long-planned move to form his own pro team.
He is listed as the CEO of King Aquatics. An email and phone message to the club was not immediately returned Thursday.