Washington area swimming coach Rick Curl. (/ Washington Post file photo )
Prominent Washington area swimming coach Rick Curl took a leave of absence from the club he founded Wednesday in the wake of accusations that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a teen swimmer and then paid her and her parents to keep quiet as part of a settlement.
Kelley Currin, whose maiden name was Kelley Davies, said Curl had sexual relations with her for four years beginning in 1983, when she was 13 and he 33. USA Swimming has requested an emergency disciplinary hearing against Curl.
Currin said her parents, Gerald and Pamela Davies, learned of the alleged relationship when they read her diary soon before she left for the University of Texas on a swimming scholarship in 1987. She said they confronted Curl, but their attorney discouraged them from pursuing criminal action.
Instead, in 1989, the parties reached a non-disclosure agreement under which Curl agreed to compensate the family $150,000 over 11 years for the “pain and suffering experienced by her” and because he recognized possible damage to his “reputation and customer relations.” Under the agreement, which The Washington Post has reviewed, Currin agreed not to press charges or speak publicly about it.
Reached Tuesday night, Curl, 62, declined to comment on the matter. Asked if he had any comment about USA Swimming’s action, he replied, “No, I have no idea what that’s all about.” Asked about specific allegations made by Currin, Curl abruptly ended the call.
Curl, who coached Tom Dolan to three medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, attended last month’s U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha on a coaching credential. His Curl-Burke Swim Club, founded in 1978, is one of the largest in the country, with 950 swimmers among its 10 sites in the Washington area.
Currin, now 43, told The Post last week that her growing desire to speak publicly of her experience finally overcame concerns about jeopardizing the settlement.
“I was stifled for 23 years from saying anything because I signed a piece of paper when I was 19,” Currin said. “Now, I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m done being quiet about it. . . . It was a crime, what happened.”
Currin said when her parents became aware of the matter years ago, their attorney told them that Andrew Sonner, then the Montgomery County State’s Attorney, speculated that Curl would get only “a slap on the wrist.” (Sonner, now retired, has told The Post he did not recall the matter.) Currin said she confided in a number of people, including some prominent coaches, but The Post was unable to find any evidence of formal action initiated against Curl.
Gerald and Pamela Davies declined to comment for this story. Currin said her parents believed they had gotten bad legal advice and later regretted agreeing to the settlement, but at the time saw few options.
“My parents were great parents, but they were as naive as I was,” said Currin, who now lives outside Dallas. “They did not know. They trusted this guy.”
Currin said that a USA Swimming investigator contacted her and her parents two months ago. USA Swimming on Monday night initiated a National Board of Review proceeding, requesting an expedited hearing and inviting the alleged victim to testify, according to USA Swimming spokeswoman Jamie Fabos Olsen. Fabos Olsen said the organization moved to take action last Friday after receiving the non-disclosure agreement.
B. Robert Allard, Currin’s attorney, sent the agreement to USA Swimming via e-mail soon after Currin spoke on the record for the first time to The Post.
“In order to protect the integrity of the case, I cannot comment further on its details except to confirm that USA Swimming has initiated the process in place to deal with complaints of sexual misconduct,” Fabos Olsen said in an e-mail.
Emergency hearings generally take place in about 10 days; the board can rule to suspend membership pending a full board review that would occur within about another 45 days.
The complaint drafted before the family reached its financial settlement, which The Post reviewed, alleges that Curl sexually molested Currin beginning in March 1983, when she was 13, and performed oral sex on her at age 14. The complaint, which is called Exhibit A in the agreement, alleged he had sexual intercourse with her when she was 16. Currin told The Post that the sexual intercourse actually began at 14 but she did not disclose this to her parents at the time out of concern they would be angry with her. The agreement, which was signed by Curl, states that he was not admitting any liability in connection with the allegations.
‘That was the beginning’