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Olympic Athlete Sues USA Swimming Over Alleged Sexual Abuse

Karsten Moran for The Washington Post via Getty Images

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An Olympic swimmer filed a lawsuit Monday against USA Swimming for allegedly covering up sexual abuse.

Ariana Kukors Smith, 28, an Olympic swimmer, claimed she was sexually abused by her former coach Sean Hutchison and that USA Swimming failed to protect her, according to a lawsuit filed at the Orange County Superior Court in California, The Associated Press reported. The swimmer claims USA Swimming’s previous investigation into Hutchison’s alleged actions in 2010 was a “sham.” She also accused Olympic coach Mark Schubert of failing to report alleged child abuse or endangerment.

“I wanted to believe that an organization like USA Swimming had my best interest at heart and that they were there to protect me,” Kukors Smith told the AP. “Over these last few months, I’ve realized that that is not the case.” (RELATED: USC Doctor Is Now Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations)

“This lawsuit is about holding people accountable who should have protected a 15-year-old girl,” Kukors Smith told reporters. “I needed help and there were people in positions of power that could have helped me.” (RELATED: MSU Claims That Larry Nassar Didn’t Violate NCAA Rules)

Kukors claimed Hutchison became her swimming coach at the King Aquatic Center in Seattle when she was 13 years old. Hutchison began the process of “child grooming,” when a child predator tries to grain trust from the victim before the relationship turns sexual, in 2002, Kukors noted, according to a statement by her attorney, CNN reported.

“I’d never been physical with anyone before but I now found myself alone with him, engaging in sexual acts and trying to hide my embarrassment when he sat in the women’s locker room and watched me shower,” Kukors Smith wrote in an essay in February, describing the sexual abuse when she was a teenager. She claimed that he waited to have sex with her until she was 18 years old at a swim meet and hid her when a chaperone tried to look for her. This resulted in sending the chaperone on a “wild goose chase,” she wrote.

Hutchison required her to send him naked pictures every day, she also alleged.

USA Swimming said in response that they commend Kukors Smith for coming forward and are working with her legal team.

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