Just one day before the Winter Games kick off in South Korea, former world champion and U.S. Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors is accusing her former swim coach Sean Hutchinson of sexual assault. Ariana claims her mentor began abusing her at just 13 years old – and it continued for over a decade.
“I never thought I would share my story because, in so many ways, just surviving was enough. I was able to leave a horrible monster and build a life I could have never imagined for myself. But in time, I’ve realized that stories like my own are too important to go unwritten. Not for the sake of you knowing my story, but for the little girls and boys whose lives and future hangs in the grasp of a horribly powerful and manipulative person," she said. "That they may not have to go through the same pain, trauma, horror, and abuse. That their parents, mentors, and guardians are better able to spot the signs of grooming and realize it’s tragic consequences before it’s too late."
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According to the Orange County Register, Ariana — who was the 2009 world champion — alleges that Sean began "grooming" her for a sexual relationship in her teens before sexually assaulting her at the age of 16, adding that the abuse lasted until she was 24 years old. Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security searched the coach's apartment but he has yet to be criminally charged.
In 2010, Sean resigned after rumors about his relationship with Ariana surfaced, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing by U.S Swimming. "Much like the USOC knew about Larry Nassar years before his arrest and did nothing, USA Swimming had notice in 2010 that Sean Hutchison was involved in an inappropriate coach-athlete relationship with Ariana and took no actions to protect her or other swimmers from this pedophile,” Ariana's attorney Bob Allard told the publication. “If this organization had immediately reported what it knew to authorities, Hutchison likely would have been stopped, Ariana would have been spared years of abuse, and countless other young girls would have been protected from this sexual predator.”
If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.