Another Former South Bay Swim Coach Accused of Sex Abuse

Thursday, Aug 12, 2010  |  Updated 10:30 AM PDT
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A San Jose-based lawyer is filing another lawsuit against USA Swimming and one of its coaches on behalf of a woman who said she was sexually abused by the coach over a five-year period.

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A San Jose-based lawyer is filing another lawsuit against USA Swimming and one of its coaches on behalf of a woman who said she was sexually abused by the coach over a five-year period.

Private attorney Robert Allard said at a news conference Wednesday the lawsuit was filed in Santa Clara County against coach Norm Havercroft and USA Swimming, the governing body of competitive swimming in the U.S.

Allard represents Jancy Thompson, a 28-year-old woman who claims she was sexually abused and molested by Havercroft starting at the age 15. The lawsuit accuses Havercroft of inappropriate sexual conduct, including unlawful sexual touching, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual molestation and sexual abuse involving at least two young swimmers,  including Thompson.

Thompson said she met Havercroft as an 11-year-old. She described him as "conniving, manipulative and always one step ahead of the ball."

She said she hopes to see accountability and a change of leadership in USA Swimming. Gazing at childhood swimming photos and medals on the table, Thompson said it's hard for her to appreciate the accolades.

"I think of the abuse, the stress, all the horrible things that happened while competing and training," she said.

In March, Allard filed an amended lawsuit seeking monetary damages for a 14-year-old female swimmer in San Jose who was a victim of another Bay Area swim coach, Andrew King.

King was convicted of felony child molestation and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison. Thompson said King's 14-year-old victim inspired her to speak out.

"I, too, know the hell that she went through," Thompson said. "Until you walk in the shoes of a sexual abuse victim it is hard to describe the manipulation that takes place."

The new lawsuit, one of five pending against USA Swimming across the country, seeks $30 million for assault and battery, negligence, negligent hiring, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Allard's firm claims the organization knew about the alleged sexual abuse but failed to remove the coaches from their jobs and even intentionally covered up their activities, thereby allowing the sexual abuse of many girls.

"It is clear USA Swimming is more interested in protecting its image and its coaches, such as Coach Havercroft, than in protecting children from sexual molestation," Allard said.

Allard said the purpose of the lawsuit is to effect change within  USA Swimming. The organization has failed to implement a "gold standard" for  protecting children, which it said more than three months ago it would do immediately.

In May, USA Swimming released a list of people who have received  lifetime bans or permanently resigned their membership, mostly due to sexual  misconduct.

"They've posted a banned list? Big deal," Allard said. "How about  they change the rules and leadership, the way children are protected."

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