When Michel Martin of NPR asked her whether she thought it was "right," she said it wouldn't have been "right" with boys. "But as a child, when you love somebody, when someone is so connected to you ... as in the coach-athlete relationship ... there were no boundaries. I just trusted him. ... If I ever had a problem at school, he would fix it. If I were late for this or that or the other, he would write a note. In a sense, he was God to me."
Her parents weren't suspicious, and she wasn't about to tell them. She thrived on the attention and power she enjoyed in competition with the other girls on the team. She didn't want it to end.
Then Mom and Dad read her diary. Soon, the coach once more sat at their kitchen table, and they confronted him. He confessed, but they didn't press criminal charges. The sexual relationship was over, and the coach paid them $150,000 and signed a letter testifying to what he did. Nobody seemed to worry that he would continue as a predator.
Kelley Currin says her parents were "naive" and rationalized the money. The media attention exposing him might harm their daughter, and the money would pay for therapy.
Last week, Curl pleaded guilty to child sex abuse in a Maryland courtroom and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Now Kelley, married and the mother of four, wants others to pay. She wants further scrutiny of USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming. Congress created it, she says, and Congress should look more closely at the "culture that protects predator coaches." There have been several lawsuits against coaches and their behavior toward underage female swimmers.
Parents could pay closer attention, too. And the rest of us could look to the idolatry of sports heroes. It's not healthy.