A high-ranking USA Swimming official recommended former national team director Everett Uchiyama for a job, less than a year after Uchiyama was banned for life by the organization for having a sexual relationship with an underage swimmer, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Pat Hogan, the managing director of club development, told a consultant for the Country Club of Colorado that Uchiyama was USA Swimming's most popular official, and that his decision to quit was a "personal choice."
The recommendation was revealed in documents obtained from San Jose, Calif., attorney Robert Allard, who is handling one of several lawsuits accusing USA Swimming of not doing enough to stop coaches from abusing athletes and covering up a series of potentially embarrassing allegations.
Uchiyama served as national team director from 2002 until he hastily resigned in January 2006, just days after one of his former swimmers came forward with allegations of a decade-long relationship with Uchiyama that began when she was only 14.
In his Dec. 26, 2006, recommendation, Hogan said he would rehire Uchiyama at USA Swimming if given the chance, though he noted, "I was not his supervisor."
The following month, Uchiyama was named aquatics director at the Country Club of Colorado. The club, located about five miles from USA Swimming's headquarters in Colorado Springs, said he was hired based on a positive recommendation from USA Swimming.
Uchiyama quit last month, a day after USA Swimming revealed his name on a list of 46 officials who've been banned for life, mostly for sexual misconduct.
Jamie Olsen, a spokeswoman for USA Swimming, said the organization could not comment "due to pending legal matters." The country club issued a statement saying it "responded to a lawfully issued subpoena" from Allard and declined to comment further.
Allard took a deposition from Hogan on Tuesday in a lawsuit alleging that more than 30 coaches nationwide have engaged in sexual misconduct with young females, as well as claiming there is a culture in competitive swimming of condoning inappropriate relationships between coaches and their athletes.
The attorney said that Hogan denied knowing anything about the confidential agreement between Uchiyama and USA Swimming that led to his resignation and acceptance of a lifetime ban.
Allard said he finds it hard to believe that Hogan knew nothing about the agreement, given that he heads up one of six departments under the overall control of executive director Chuck Wielgus. If Hogan didn't know, Allard said, that shows Wielgus has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover up sexual abuse claims against USA Swimming.
"I've always believed that USA Swimming was inept," Allard said. "But it wasn't until yesterday, when I deposed Mr. Hogan, that I became convinced this organization is corrupt to its leadership core."
Hogan's recommendation to the country club dealt with several issues:
_ Dependability: "Yes, more than was required."
_ Ability to get along with others: "Fantastic. Most popular employee in (organization)."
_ Initiative: "Outstanding."
When asked if he had any additional comments to make that would be helpful in deciding whether to hire Uchiyama, Hogan replied, "Outstanding team player. No job is above or beneath him." Hogan also described Uchiyama as a "great people person."
The woman who made the allegations against Uchiyama told the AP last month that her relationship with Uchiyama started not long after she began swimming for him at Southern California Aquatics. She's now in her mid-30s and spoke on condition of anonymity because her name was never revealed after the investigation.
Her accusations, made in a Jan. 24, 2006, e-mail to USA Swimming, led to Uchiyama's resignation three days later. He was permanently banned from the organization on Jan. 31, 2006.
No criminal charges were ever filed. The accuser said she was told the statute of limitations had expired, which also prevented her from filing a civil case.
In April, USA Swimming unveiled a seven-point plan as part of its efforts to address sexual misconduct within the sport, including a 1972 Olympic champion claiming she was abused and that the governing body did nothing about it. In addition to releasing the names of all banned officials, the organization announced this week that it was partnering with the Child Welfare League of America to develop a comprehensive child protection program.