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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 was wondering about the 6 million put aside for common attorney fees?does that mean that if you are a plaintiff your attorney fees will be partially covered?

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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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