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Mark Schubert calls claims 'distortions and lies'

It is the first response by the swim coach, who is accused of covering up alleged sexual misconduct by Sean Hutchison.

October 10, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • Mark Schubert, former women's head coach for the U.S. swimming team until 2010, attends the USA Swimming Press Conference prior to the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games at the main Olympic press center on August 11, 2004
Mark Schubert, former women's head coach for the U.S. swimming team… (Robert Laberge / Getty Images )

Famed swim coach Mark Schubert, who was accused in a recent wrongful-termination lawsuit of ignoring sexually inappropriate behavior between a coach and swimmers, has in court documents dismissed the claims as "distortions and lies."

Swim coach and philanthropist Dia Rianda filed the suit last month in Orange County Superior Court against Schubert, who is the chief executive officer of Golden West Swim Club in Huntington Beach.

Most notably, Schubert was the head of the U.S. national team until 2010 and a fixture on the Olympic scene for decades, having trained an impressive number of world-class athletes, including distance star Janet Evans, who won four Olympic gold medals.

Schubert's legal response to the charges, in court papers obtained by The Times, was due to be filed in Orange County later on Tuesday. Until now, there had been no comment or response from Schubert or his associate, swim coach William Jewell, who was accused by Rianda of displaying "inappropriate behavior" with swimmers at Golden West.

One of the other explosive allegations from Rianda claimed that Schubert and USA Swimming had engaged in a cover-up of alleged sexual misconduct by Sean Hutchison when Hutchison coached the high-performance program in Fullerton. It alleged Schubert was paid $625,000 to keep quiet in regard to information about Hutchison or any swim coaches. USA Swimming previously denied such an arrangement existed.

"Plaintiff alleges Schubert of holding on to this evidence [against Hutchison] for his own personal gain instead of turning it over to the authorities," court documents said. "None of this is true.

"Schubert never hired a private investigator and never had any evidence that Hutchison had an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of his swimmers. ... Plaintiff then alleges that Schubert entered into a confidential agreement with USA Swimming whereby USA Swimming 'bought him off' from disclosing any further information about sex abuse by swim coaches.

"Incredibly, she alleges that in exchange for money, Schubert agreed not to divulge any further information about sexual abuse by swim coaches. This is absolutely false."

Schubert's attorney Richard Foster told The Times on Tuesday that Schubert is still working at Golden West and has been given the full support from the club's board.

Rianda said in an interview in September that she brought the lawsuit to try to bring change to the sport.

Court documents in Tuesday's response said she was dismissed for "legitimate reasons," alleging Rianda had created issues for the board of directors by "being uncooperative," and charged that she "bullied swimmers."

Her legal team came back with a strongly worded response, saying Schubert continue to "bury his head in the sand," in connection with allegations against Jewell.

"Mark Schubert and Bill Jewell are both part of a sick, perverted good old boy culture inside USA Swimming that continues to protect coaches and has little concern for the safety of young athletes," said Rianda's attorney Robert Allard. "Our lawsuit is clear. Jewell was engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior and Schubert condoned his actions."

The court documents from Schubert's side said that the Jewell allegations were "equally distorted," adding, "All of the conduct of which Schubert was aware was in open view. While Jewell may have touched some swimmers, all such touchings were also in open view, in the act of coaching and in line with USA Swimming's guidelines."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com twitter.com/reallisa

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