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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. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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