SEATTLE — Ariana Kukors, a member of the 2012 Olympic team, said Wednesday that her former longtime swim coach began to “groom her” at 13 at the King Aquatic Club outside of Seattle and began sexually abusing her at age 16.
As a result of her allegations, according to the SeattlePI.com, investigators on Tuesday searched the Seattle home of the former U.S. Olympic Team swimming coach amid allegations that he sexually abused and took explicit photos of Kukors. Investigators with a Homeland Security task force searched the man’s Seattle apartment, recovering electronic devices they say may contain evidence.
Homeland Security launched an investigation on Jan. 30 following a report from Kukors, according to the court documents, the Associated Press said.
Kukors, now 28, said in a statement Wednesday that she went to police to report that her ex-coach sexually assaulted her on trips and while training at Seattle area pools. She told investigators that he used his position as her longtime coach to "groom her" for sexual abuse.
Kukors said the grooming started at age 13 when the man became her coach at King Aquatics, a Seattle-area swim club. She claims he started sexually abusing her when she was 16.
Kukors, the 2009 world champion in the 200-meter individual medley who placed fifth in that event in the 2012 Olympics, said she came forward to empower other victims.
"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. 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."
She said that through recent therapy and after years of suppressing memories of the pain and suffering, she came to the realization that she was sexually abused. On the recommendation of victims’ advocates, she said she is now coming forward with the help of her attorneys, Robert Allard and Ray Mendoza.
The coach under investigation left a Southern California program where he trained young women on the U.S. team in 2010 after speculation that he was sexually involved with a swimmer. He denied it.
The coach didn't immediately respond to an email for comment Wednesday.
Q13 News does not typically name anyone accused of a crime until they are charged.
Kukors' attorney, Allard, said, "USA Swimming had notice in 2010 that (the coach) was involved in an inappropriate coach-athlete relationship with Ariana and took no actions to protect her or other swimmers from this pedophile. If this organization had immediately reported what it knew to authorities, (the coach) 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."
Apparently one of the Seattle area pools where the alleged abuses occurred was at Mount Rainier Pool in Des Moines.
The Des Moines Police Department issued a press release Wednesday night saying it had received a report from the Seattle Police Department about a victim alleging sex crimes that were determined to have occurred, in part, at the Mount Rainier Pool in Des Moines between 2002 and 2007, when the victim turned 18.
"The suspect under investigation was the victim's swim coach during that time," the Des Moines police said.