Kukors Smith, now 28, told reporters Monday she was just now starting to feel anger and sadness over what she says she experienced at the hands of her former coach Sean Hutchinson.
Hutchinson began coaching Kukors Smith when she was 13 and began to groom her for sexual abuse, according to the complaint filed in Orange County, California, Superior Court.
“I don’t use the word program lightly,” Kukors Smith said at the Monday press conference in Seattle, flanked by her attorneys and her husband. “I’m trying to let myself sit in those emotions.”
According to the complaint, USA Swimming leadership was aware of Hutchinson’s sexual relationship with Kukors Smith, which the Olympian says began when she was about 16.
But the organization’s leadership schemed to look the other way and deliberately manipulated a background check procedure to keep the allegations about Hutchinson from surfacing, according to the complaint.
In 2010, USA Swimming head coach Mark Schubert reported Hutchinson’s relationship with Kukors Smith. But the organization did not report suspected child abuse to the authorities, Kukors Smith says, instead launching an internal investigation conducted by an employee who had no specialized training in childhood sexual abuse to protect itself.
Hutchinson was in a “position of power and control over” Kukors Smith and the psychological effects inflicted on her by childhood sexual abuse were not discovered until years later, Kukors Smith says in her complaint. She adds she continues to suffer mental, physical and nervous pain.
Named defendants include USA Swimming, Hutchinson, Schubert and several aquatic centers managed by the organization.
Kukors Smith’s claims include sexual abuse of a minor, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She seeks general, special and punitive damages, compensation for loss of earning capacity and fees.
She is represented by B. Robert Allard, Lauren Cerri and Mark Boskovich of the San Jose, California-based firm Corsiglia McMahon & Allard.
An email to USA Swimming seeking comment was not immediately returned.
A native of Washington state, Kukors Smith won a total of seven medals in international competition between 2004 and 2012. She once held the world record in the 200-meter individual medley, and placed fifth in that event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.