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Jancy Thompson Sues Calif. Coach, USA Swimming Over Sexual Abuse Allegations

Calif. coach, USA Swimming Sued Over Sexual Abuse Allegations
Jancy Thompson, left, sits near her attorney, Robert Allard (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBS/AP) Jancy Thompson is suing the governing body of U.S. competitive swimming and the California swim coach she says sexually abused, humiliated and harassed her when she was a teenager under his supervision.

In the lawsuit announced Wednesday it states that swimming coach Norman Havercroft sexually abused the now 28-year-old Thompson over a five-year period in the 1990s. The alleged abuse started when Thompson was about 15 years old.

The lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Sane Jose, Calif. also lists the West Valley Swim Club and Pacific Swimming, the West Coast branch of USA Swimming, for allegedly covering up wrongdoing and allowing a culture of abuse to live in coaching ranks.

Thompson says she came forward to help affect change.

"I was robbed of my childhood and never performed to my full capabilities," she told the Associated Press. "I want to ensure that no one has to endure what I went through and carry such a burden the rest of their lives."

Jancy Thompson Sues Calif. coach, USA Swimming Over Sexual Abuse Allegations
Jancy Thompson (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP Photo/Ben Margot

The alleged abuse occurred at several locations in Santa Clara County, including Los Gatos swim club where Thompson trained, the homes of Thompson and Havercroft and at a school, according to the 44-page lawsuit initially filed June 18 and amended Aug. 4.

Havercroft is accused in the lawsuit of groping, engaging in sexual acts, providing pornography and buying an Internet camera for "cyber" sex.

USA Swimming claimed it investigates misconduct complaints and revokes membership for inappropriate behavior.

The alleged abuse went on after Thompson turned 18, even though she never gave consent, according to the lawsuit.

"In the worst of ways we claim that he (Havercroft) took advantage of the coach-athlete relationship, exerting his power and authority," said attorney Robert Allard.

The suit also claims Havercroft abused another female and says USA Swimming knew about that case and did absolutely nothing to remove Havercroft from his position.

However, Jane Weil, a lawyer for USA Swimming and Pacific Swimming, said the organizations had "no knowledge of unlawful conduct" by Havercroft, as alleged in the suit. Weil said the San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County district attorney's office investigated claims of abuse by the other female and brought no criminal charges against Havercroft.

USA Swimming has been scrutinized for its handling of alleged abuse cases but has said it was taking steps to keep young athletes safe. At least 46 coaches and officials have been banned for life, mostly for sexual misconduct.

The organization will vote on measures at its national convention in September that include a new athlete protection policy, expanded background checks, and a requirement that all adults who interact with swimmers become members of the organization.

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