The hidden face of the international Olympic scene
A congressional organization is compiling a list of coaches banned from the Olympics for misconduct and sexual abuse. Eight are from northeast Ohio.
CLEVELAND – Olympic Sports: These are the most competitive, exciting and historic moments in the world that set the sporting bar.
But on the other side of the international scene is a world of sexual abuse.
Olympic coaches and support staff who have attacked athletes have found themselves in a legal world of allegations and, in some cases, removal from the world of competition.
The American Center for Safe Sport is an organization authorized by Congress to track abuse among Olympic athletes, coaches, and other personnel.
The organization Centralized disciplinary database is a place where you’ll find every “participant”, the title used by the organization for any coach or staff member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, or USOPC, of any Olympic sport, who has been charged or recognized guilty of a sex crime against an athlete.
The database also illustrates the discipline they received from the USOPC.
US Safe Sport officials said participants may be listed in the database for three reasons:
- If they are convicted of a sex crime by a court.
- If an internal investigation conducted by the organization reveals that the participant has violated the organization’s code of conduct.
- Being temporarily listed in the database while an investigation is ongoing in court or within the organization.
“The database is the first of its kind,” said a spokesman for the organizations, Daniel Hill. “It is intended to bring more accountability so that participants, organizations and others are aware of individuals who have been sanctioned by the center.”
The database lists more than 1,700 participants. You’ll find some of the most high-profile convicted doctors there, such as Larry Nassar, who abused hundreds of Olympic gymnasts during his nearly 20 years with American gymnastics.
In more detailed research, 3News surveys the hundreds of participants, 122 of whom were in Ohio.
Eight of them are in northeast Ohio.
Names include Michael Thompson, a Canton volleyball coach who confessed to having sex with a 16-year-old player in 2015. Thompson pleaded guilty to sexual assault and gross sexual imposition, and was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison. .
Sam Seiple, a former McKinley High School swim coach who pleaded guilty to having sex with a former student in 2017.
Thompson and Seiple are permanently ineligible to train for Olympic sports, according to the database.
Also on the list is former U.S. figure skating coach William “Bill” Coyle, who was flagged as ineligible by the USOPC for criminal adjudication of a minor.
Coyle resigned from the Greater Cleveland Council for Figure Skating Clubs in February, according to meeting minutes posted online.
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Of the seven northeast Ohio coaches listed in the database, Peter Kim is one of the only coaches still coaching.
The former US taekwondo coach was convicted of sexual assault in the early 2000s and was a registered sex offender in Ohio until 2013.
Kim now owns a martial arts center in Brunswick.
3News Investigates attempted to sit down with Kim, who declined a formal interview, saying we were trying to “put it all behind him.”
Off-camera, Kim said she met with relatives in May, addressing her past, and that 25% of her clients left the gym.
Sexual violence advocates told 3News Investigates that any time spent between athletes and coaches is often fragile and has led to a culture of abuse.
“I only think about power,” said Taylr Ucker-Lauderman of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “Whether it’s that type of relationship where, as you said, sport is your life, it’s very difficult to navigate it when someone takes power over you. We can’t we expect people to always feel comfortable saying what they need to and saying what feels safe to them.
Olympic disciplinary action taken against these coaches is solely within the purview of Olympic sports, Hill said.
US officials from Safe Sport said that while there is no way to ensure these coaches no longer train, the database is meant to be a tool for parents or others when screening or background checks.
You can search the database yourself here.
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