Imagine, if you will, that the late Joe Paterno didn’t take action to expose the child-molesting proclivities of his former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, not because he was concerned about his cherished football program’s image, but because Sandusky paid him off with a big check. Can we all agree that this would have been even more reprehensible than what actually occurred? I assume so. Paterno would have been enriching himself with the sacrifice of young innocents to a pedophile.
Now compare that hypothetical with what we know about the developing scandal around renowned swimming coach Rick Curl, who has trained Olympian swimmers for decades. took a leave of absence from the club he founded Wednesday in the wake of accusations that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a teen swimmer and then paid her and her parents to keep quiet as part of a settlement.
Kelley Davies Currin, a former swimmer whom Curl coached at his Washington, D.C. area swim club, recently told authorities that Curl had sexual relations with her for four years beginning in 1983, when she was 13 and he was twenty years her senior. USA Swimming has requested an emergency disciplinary hearing against Curl, but that is not the issue here.
The issue here is this: Currin also said her parents, Gerald and Pamela Davies, learned of the ongoing molestation and statutory rape when they read her diary as she was preparing to enroll at the University of Texas on a swimming scholarship in 1987. They confronted Curl, and in 1989 reached a non-disclosure agreement under which Rick Curl agreed to pay the family $150,000 in exchange for the family’s pledge not to press charges or speak publicly about his molestation and rape of their daughter
The short version: Currin and her family accepted cold cash to allow a predatory coach who worked with young women on a daily basis to continue having access to them and to be able to do to them what he did to Currin. [If you want to know what he did to Currin, read the Washington Post story here. I don’t care to relate it.] That’s 25 years during which a trusted professional who seduced and raped one of the teenage girls entrusted to him was as free as Sandusky to pursue his twisted amorous activities. Did he? I have no idea, and neither did Currin and her parents, just as Paterno and the other Penn State enablers could say they didn’t “know” that Sandusky was happily buggering more boys. But they knew that he would have the opportunity, and they did nothing…indeed, they did worse than nothing. They profited by doing nothing.
Now Currin is finally talking, and spinning. She is in her forties now, so she says she was just a clueless 19 year-old, and didn’t understand. Nonsense. She was an adult; she could vote, she could have sex legally, she was accountable. And she hasn’t been 19 for 25 years. She says that the family got bad advice from their lawyer. Nonsense. A lawyer’s job is to focus only on a client’s interests, not those of the future victims of the clients’ molester. It was the ethical duty of Currin and her parents to do the right thing as citizens and human beings, the Golden Rule thing, the obvious and ethical thing: stop Rick Curl from doing to another girl want he did to Kelley. They accepted money to do the wrong thing, knowing that they were potentially aiding and abetting a serial rapist.
I have always been critical of the family of Mary Jo Kopechne, the young campaign worker that Ted Kennedy killed in a negligent homicide caused by his drunkenness, irresponsibility and cowardice. They were paid handsomely by Papa Joe Kennedy to play along with the cover-up, and not press charges or sue. This allowed a man of miserable character to prosper in the U.S. Senate, but that is, tragically, not a rare occurrence, and it was a good bet that Kennedy would stay off country bridges in the future, so it cannot be said that they knew they were endangering other star-struck young women like their daughter. As reprehensible as that family’s accepting hush money was, what Currin and her family did was infinitely worse.
When ethics fail, the law steps in, for better or worse. I would support a law making such non-disclosure deals illegal when they involve criminal activity and allowing an individual like Curl to have access to future victims. Currin was a victim herself, and horribly violated, but that cannot excuse allowing the same fate to befall others.
Facts and Graphic: Washington Post
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