Missouri suit alleges sex abuse in youth swimming

Monday, April 19, 2010 | 3:03 p.m. CDT; updated 11:23 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

KANSAS CITY — Attorneys in Missouri filed a lawsuit Monday against the governing body of U.S. competitive swimming and a suburban swim coach who they claim had a sexual relationship with a teenage swimmer.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County court in Independence, alleges that Robert D. Mirande groomed the teen for a sexual relationship and had "inappropriate sexual contact" with the teen between the summer of 2006 and winter of 2007. The name of the woman, who was 17 when she claims the abuse started, has not been released.

The suit alleges that USA Swimming and Aaron Dean, who supervised Mirande as the former head coach of the Kansas City Dolphins swim club in Blue Springs, did not promptly or adequately investigate the claims against him.

Mirande and Dean now hold coaching positions with Occoquan Swimming Inc. in Prince William County, Va. Both are named as defendants in the suit.

Mirande said in an e-mail that he was not aware of the lawsuit and would have no comment. Dean said he would have no comment on the claims until he could see the complete filing and speak to his attorney.

USA Swimming, also a defendant, has come under fire recently for its handling of sexual abuse claims. A separate lawsuit has been filed in Santa Clara County, Calif., alleging that an inadequate background check policy has encouraged sexual molestation in youth swimming.

A representative for the governing body for swimming said in an e-mail that it had been investigating the Blue Springs case for the past three months but had been unable to obtain critical information from the person making the complaint.

"Because we take allegations of coach misconduct very seriously, we have notified local law enforcement authorities," according to an e-mail from the group. "Our top priority remains ensuring the safety of our membership, and in that regard, it is our hope that this case will provide the details we've been seeking in order to carry out our review process."

There were no immediate responses to e-mail and phone messages left with officials for two other groups named in the suit — the Kansas City Dolphins and Missouri Valley Swimming, the swimming committee that oversees about 60 other clubs in the region.

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