Rick Curl (James A. Parcell/The Washington…)
Longtime area swim coach Rick Curl, whose former students include world-record breakers and Olympic gold medalists, has agreed to plead guilty to child sexual abuse at a hearing scheduled for Feb. 21 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Curl, 63, was charged in October after a former swim student, Kelley Currin, told authorities that he began abusing her in 1983. Currin was 13 at the time, and she said the abuse continued until she was 18. Currin, formerly known as Kelley Davies, told detectives last year that the physical contact started with kissing and fondling and progressed to intercourse when she was 15.
A memorandum about the agreement filed in Circuit Court in Rockville late last week does not include details about potential incarceration or terms of probation. The hearing will include an opportunity for the state’s attorney’s office and Curl’s attorneys to present their recommendations, along with an opportunity for victim impact statements.
Under the Maryland law in effect at the time of the offense, Curl could face a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Curl’s attorneys, Bruce Marcus and Thomas Kelly, did not return e-mails and phone calls. Currin, 43, did not respond to several calls for comment. A spokesman for the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office declined to comment.
After Currin’s allegations were made public in July in The Washington Post, Curl received a lifetime ban from USA Swimming, the sport’s governing body in the United States. His namesake organization, the Curl-Burke Swim Club, was renamed the Nation’s Capital Swim Club.
In 1989, Currin and her parents entered into a $150,000 confidentiality deal with Curl, agreeing not to disclose details of her years-long sexual contact with him.
Currin told The Post in July that a growing desire to speak publicly of her experience finally overcame concerns about jeopardizing the settlement.
Her parents said the decision to keep quiet for decades led to constant second-guessing and feelings of regret. Pam and Gerry Davies, who now live in Sarasota, Fla., said they won’t be able to attend the Feb. 21 hearing because of Gerry’s health problems.
“I wish I could be there,” he said.
Instead, Gerry Davies, 79, has begun writing a letter to the judge. He hopes the letter will remain private, he said, because he intends to write about personal details. He said he will give a firsthand account of how Curl, one of the family’s closest friends and advisers, abused the trust that he had received from Kelley and both parents.
“The more I write, the madder I get,” Gerry Davies said. “The situation is not good. He has destroyed our family. As a man, I really want to see him do the time.”
As for the idea of justice in this case, Pam Davies, 74, said it’s a difficult concept to grasp.
“It will never go away. It is always with us,” she said. “We trusted him at the utmost.”
Robert Allard, a lawyer who has been working pro bono for Currin, said he is hopeful that Curl will be severely punished.
“How long has it been since the abuse? 25 years?” he asked. “The sentence should be consistent with the time that Kelley has had to suffer alone with being the victim of sexual molestation. That should be the minimum sentence.”
Curl has one previous criminal offense, a 1989 conviction for driving under the influence, according to court records.
In response to questions about Curl’s agreement to plead guilty to child sexual abuse, USA Swimming spokeswoman Karen Linhart sent a statement via e-mail.
“On September 18, 2012, USA Swimming suspended for life former Curl-Burke Coach Rick Curl and added his name to the public list of banned individuals,” she wrote. “USA Swimming takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and reports allegations of inappropriate conduct to the proper authorities.”
Over the years, the Curl-Burke Swim Club churned out hundreds of competitive swimmers, including area talent that took swimming’s top titles. Some of Curl’s prized swimmers included Mike Barrowman, who won gold in the 200-meter breaststroke at 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and Tom Dolan, an asthmatic swimmer who won gold medals in the 400-meter individual medley in the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney games.
In the mid-2000s, Curl moved his family to Australia for a new job coaching at a swim club outside Sydney. When he returned to the United States in 2009, he told The Post that he hoped to incorporate Aussie-style traditions into his formula for teaching young kids how to swim.
Chris Trevino contributed to this article.