Jury clears USA Swimming in conduct of exStockton coach
STOCKTON — A jury has ruled in favor of USA Swimming in the case of a former coach who sexually abused a teenage swimmer, determining that the organization was not negligent.
The Stockton jury deliberated for less than three hours and found that USA Swimming did not fall below the standard of care and was not responsible for the conduct of former Stockton Swim Club coach Shunichi Fujishima.
Oakland-based attorney William Kronenberg, representing USA Swimming, said in a statement Friday that the jury’s decision was important vindication of the organization’s athlete protection program.
“USA Swimming has worked very hard to develop and institute a comprehensive program to protect its swimmers,” Kronenberg said.
According to Kronenberg, “The jury was presented with the entire athlete protection program, from the Code of Conduct, mandatory screening and training of coaches, to educational models for parents and swimmers along with expert testimony which found it met or exceeded the standards necessary for a safe environment.”
While no youth serving organization can ever be 100 percent safe, according to Kronenburg, the jury found that USA’s program
was “properly designed, implemented and staffed.”
At the time of his arrest, Fujishima had been coach and chief executive officer with the nonprofit Stockton Swim Club since November 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Last year, he took a team of 25 Stockton youths ages 7 to 17 on an eight-day trip to Japan to compete in the Age Group Championships at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. After the trip, several of the Stockton youths who swam at the meet spoke glowingly of the experience. It is not known if Fujishima’s alleged victim was one of the youths on the trip.
“He was sexually assaulting me for seven months,” the girl wrote in her restraining-order application in January. “He was also manipulating me, convincing me not to say anything and telling me this was normal/it’s okay.”
Fujishima pleaded guilty in August to sexual abuse charges and in October was sentenced to 12 years in prison.