Another athlete has come forward to accuse a former coach of sexual abuse and exploitation. This time a former world champion swimmer is speaking up and sharing her horrific experience since she was 16 years old.
Court documents filed this week in Washington state identify the victim as Ariana Kukors, now 28. Kukors shared her story to Department of Homeland Security investigators that her former coach Sean Hutchison abused her beginning in 2005. An affidavit for search warrant also indicates that Kukors is accusing the coach of taking thousands of sexually explicit photographs of her when she was a minor.
Kukors decided to come public with her story through her lawyers and posted a comprehensive 4,000-word statement on her website Friday.
Kukors alleges that the inappropriate contact started as seemingly innocent and harmless back rubs in hotel rooms when their team traveled to swim meets. But the advances and abuses later worsened into kissing, fondling and even the coach putting a finger inside her vagina.
The world champion also said in court documents that her former coach started to take pictures of her while she was at the shower and during walks at the state park.
Kukors also shared that she was only 13 when Hutchinson became her coach at King Aquatic Center in Seattle, Washington. Her lawyers’ statement says that the former coach started in 2002 the process of child ‘grooming’, which is described as “a practice utilized by child predators to obtain a victim’s trust with the goal of sexualizing the relationship.”
Kukors said in her website statement: “I think back on those times now, tearfully asking myself why no one helped me… why no one stepped in to save me from this monster. It’s still hard to comprehend, but Sean had perfected the art of grooming; I wasn’t even aware I needed saving.”
The athlete said she stayed with her coach because he managed to convince her that she would have her fastest swim time for him.
Kukors became a world champion and world record holder in the 200-meter individual medley in 2009. She also won a world title in 2010 in the short-course 100-meter individual medley. She was also part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that participated in London.
Hutchison happened to be the head coach of the U.S. women’s team in 2009. He was also one of the Olympic coaches in 2008 at the Beijing Games.
Kukors also joined the roster of elite swimmers when Hutchison moved to California that year to coach at a training center. The coach left Team USA in 2010 but remained a member of USA Swimming by virtue of his ownership of King Aquatic Center.
Kukors elaborated on her ordeal and said further in the same statement released by her lawyers: “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.”
Her attorneys also said that Kukors recently became aware that she was abused through therapy. The lawyers also accuse USA Swimming that they knew eight years ago that Hutchison “was involved in an inappropriate coach-athlete relationship.”
Kukors also said that Hutchison didn’t have intercourse with her before she turned 18. She said that they were at an out-of-state meet when “Sean snuck me into his room to finally give me my ‘gift’.” She said she will spare with the details of the abuse but she is certain that “the memory of that night will always haunt me.”
Kukors called police in Des Moines, Washington last month to file a report. She once trained with Hutchison there. DHS became involved because there’s a big possibility that crimes may have been committed in other states, and even countries.
DHS searched Hutchison’s apartment this week gathering electronic equipment that may contain photographic evidence of child pornography.
DHS also said that their investigation of the case is in its preliminary stage.
Hutchison, 46, said in an earlier statement that “everything he did with Kukors was consensual.” He even claimed that they had a “committed relationship” after the 2012 Olympics that lasted for more than a year.
The USA Swimming said Kukors have their support and that they are also investigating the allegations. The governing body that operates the world championship and Olympic teams also said that they stand by Kukors “and all other victims in their quest to break their silence and confront their horrific experiences.”