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Lawsuit filed against former coach, swim organizations

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A victim molested by the former swim coach at an Indianapolis high school and club team is suing the former coach, the school corporation and two swimming organizations, arguing several people knew of the coach’s past inappropriate contact with minors and did nothing about it.

Chris Wheat, who worked as a coach with Lawrence Swim Team and at Lawrence North High School, pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of felony sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of felony child solicitation. The charges stemmed from his sexual contact with the plaintiff in this case, who was then a 14-year-old freshman on the Lawrence Swim Team, which is a USA Swimming-sanctioned club.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Marion Superior Court  by Saeed & Little on behalf of the victim, referred to as “Jane Doe,” contains 16 counts against defendants United States Swimming Inc., Indiana Swimming, the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, Wheat, John Diercks and Amanda Cox. Diercks is the former head swim coach at Lawrence North, founder of the Lawrence Swim Team and a former head coach of the team. Cox is a USA Swimming-certified swim coach and coach at McCutcheon High School in Tippecanoe County. Indiana Swimming is the administrative arm of USA Swimming in this state.

The suit alleges that the defendants knew of Wheat’s past behavior involving minors he coached but did not report it to police. Wheat was rehired in 2003 after resigning from the swim club team several years earlier following allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with minors. Swimmers and parents were told only that he resigned in 2001 to take another job. The suit claims if the defendants had notified police when they originally learned of Wheat’s inappropriate behavior, then Doe wouldn’t have been sexually molested. It also claims that USA Swimming knew of coaches associated with other teams that had abused swimmers, but the organization did not put any protection policies in place.

Indiana law requires teachers and coaches to report sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement officials.

Doe seeks a jury trial on her claims and economic and noneconomic compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, and all other relief deemed proper.

A federal suit against USA Swimming and Westfield Washington School Corp. is pending before Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. Brooke Taflinger swam for a club team whose coach had placed a video camera in the locker room to secretly tape Taflinger and other teen girls on the team while they changed clothes. She alleges that USA Swimming failed to protect the swimmers from Brian Hindson’s behavior. Hindson is currently serving a 33-year sentence in Florida after pleading guilty to 11 counts of child pornography.
 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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