Jury clears USA Swim­ming in con­duct of exS­tock­ton coach

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS -

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.

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