Ex-KC swim coach charged in sex abuse case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday against the governing body of U.S. competitive swimming and a suburban swim coach who they claim had a sexual relationship with a teenage swimmer.

The claims are the latest against USA Swimming, which has come under fire recently for its handling of alleged sexual abuse cases.

The lawsuit filed in a Jackson County, Mo., court accuses Robert D. Mirande of grooming the teen for a sexual relationship — even providing her alcohol — and ultimately having "inappropriate sexual contact" with her between the summer of 2006 and winter of 2007.

The name of the young woman, who was 17 when she claims the abuse started, is not being released.

Lynn Johnson, the plaintiff's attorney, said his client decided she "couldn't live with herself" if she didn't do something to change the "culture of tolerance" and "culture of denial."

The suit alleges that USA Swimming and Aaron Dean, who supervised Mirande as the former head coach of the Kansas City Dolphins swim club in Blue Springs, Mo., did not promptly or adequately investigate the claims against him.

Mirande and Dean have since left for coaching jobs with Occoquan Swimming Inc. in Prince William County, Va. Both are named as defendants in the suit.

Mirande said in an e-mail that he was not aware of the lawsuit and would have no comment. Dean said he planned "to cooperate fully with any further investigations as well as see the judicial system run its course."

The Missouri lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, noting that the alleged victim suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

USA Swimming said in an e-mail that it had been investigating the case for the past three months but had been unable to obtain critical information from the person making the complaint.

"Because we take allegations of coach misconduct very seriously, we have notified local law enforcement authorities," said an e-mail from the group. "Our top priority remains ensuring the safety of our membership, and in that regard, it is our hope that this case will provide the details we've been seeking in order to carry out our review process."

The governing body for swimming has increasingly facing questions about its handling of alleged sexual abuse cases.

Last month, Deena Deardurff Schmidt, a 1972 Olympic champion swimmer, disclosed that as she trained in the 1960s, she was repeatedly molested by her coach. Despite telling officials at USA Swimming years later, she said, the coach — whom she wouldn't name — went on to train more young swimmers and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Her comments came a day after a separate lawsuit was filed in Santa Clara County, Calif., alleging that more than 30 coaches nationwide have engaged in sexual misconduct with young females.

Missouri Valley Swimming, the swimming committee that overseas about 60 clubs in the region, also was named as a defendant.