One of the lessons I learned from the last round of "Safe Sport" reforms in swimming was that we all need to act quicker to test the validity of these new systems. So, just like Irvin Muchnick and Sarah Erekircher, and also based on the advice I got on my podcast form Nancy Hogshead Makar, I put a challenge to the new regime.
On February 28th I submitted a report via the online form on Paul Bergen. I only reported what I knew from publicly available information, including Deena Deardurff Schmidt speaking directly to the camera about it in 2010:
I received a call from an investigator named Joe Weller shortly thereafter. I spoke to Mr. Weller for about 20 minutes, telling him everything I knew about Bergen (again, from publicly available sources).
Shortly thereafter, and completely unrelated to my report, I got contacted by Deena Deardurff Schmidt. She told me that she had never listened to a podcast, but on the urging of a friend she had listened to my podcast with Nancy Hogshead Makar.
We talked for about 50 minutes, and she confirmed once again the details that I had passed on to the investigator. Specifically, that Bergen had molested her from the age of 11 to 15, in the late 60s and early 70s when she trained on the Cincinnati Marlins. She told me that she had attempted to report it to the police but that the statute of limitations in Ohio at the time stymied that effort.
She also told me that she had told many people in the swimming world, including a smirking Mark Schubert. She said that many of the coaches she told- Schmidt herself was a coach for many years- seemed to not take her story very seriously because they themselves had sexual relationships with swimmers they coached (or had friends who had done as much).
Paul Bergen was one of the big misses of the first Safe Sport era. It's fair to say that it probably failed because of Chuck Wielgus' ego. Wielgus was asked directly about Schmidt's report by ESPN's Outside the Lines,
This investigation will be another test- can Safe Sport do right where so many have failed before? Although Bergen is not an active coach as far as I know, he has also escaped consequences for his actions. He remains in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Joe Weller, the investigator, identified himself as former law enforcement, specifically with a history in investigating sex crimes against children. Let's see if that experience allows him to finally do justice in this case.