• Champion swimmer accuses coach of underage sex abuse

    Updated:

    A world champion swimmer with Seattle ties has accused a team coach of sexually abusing her starting when she was 16, the latest misconduct allegations against those charged with caring for young athletes.

    On KIRO 7 at 5 p.m., we're digging into the federal child porn investigation. The response today from the coach -- and his accuser. Watch on-air or online here.

           Ariana Kukors, now 28, also told authorities that Sean Hutchison took thousands of sexually explicit photographs of her, according to a  search warrant document filed by a federal agent. 

         She told officers that he kissed and touched her when she was 16 and engaged in sexual activity with her when she was 17 at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Victoria, British Columbia, the document said.     

    Kukors, the 2009 world champion in the 200-meter individual medley who placed fifth in that event in the 2012 Olympics, accused Hutchison of "grooming" her for sexual abuse when she was 13 and he was her coach at a Seattle-area swim club.

    Kukors sent KIRO 7 News to the following statement:

    "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.

    Ariana Kukors

    "But in time, I’ve realized that stories like my own are too important to go unwritten. Not for the sake of you knowing my story, but for the little girls and boys whose lives and future hangs in the grasp of a horribly powerful and manipulative person. That they may not have to go through the same pain, trauma, horror, and abuse. That their parents, mentors, and guardians are better able to spot the signs of grooming and realize it’s tragic consequences before it’s too late," said Kukors.

      U.S. authorities and police seized electronic devices from Hutchison's Seattle apartment this week that they say may contain evidence. They're looking for evidence to support Kukors' claims that Hutchison "sexually abused her as a minor" and "took thousands of sexually explicit, nude photographs" of her when she was under-age.  

      Hutchison faced an investigation by USA Swimming in 2010 over his ties to Kukors but it was closed with no misconduct found.

    Hutchison, 46, who was an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, said the two were in a relationship after the 2012 Olympics and that she lived in his Seattle home for more than a year.

    Hutchinson sent KIRO 7 News the following statement: 

    “At no time did I ever abuse Ariana Kukors or do anything with her that was not consensual,” Hutchison said in a statement provided by his attorney, Brad Meryhew. 

    Sean Hutchison

     “I absolutely deny having any sexual or romantic relationship with her before she was old enough to legally make those decisions for herself. Prior to that time, I did nothing to ‘groom’ her.”Hutchison went on to say that Kukors’ family was aware of their relationship. He characterized her claims as “wild allegations” issued “all these years later.”

    USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport, said Thursday that it learned of the underage abuse allegations this week. 

      USA Swimming sent KIRO 7 News the following statement: 

      “Ariana Kukors’ recent public statement marked the first time USA Swimming learned of the allegations that Sean Hutchison sexually abused Ariana when she was a minor. Our hearts go out to Ariana and the difficulty she has gone through to reach this point of disclosure. We fully support her in her case for answers and justice and applaud her courage in sharing her story in an effort to empower victims and protect athletes.

     “In 2010, USA Swimming became aware of a rumored relationship between Hutchison and then 21-year-old Ariana via a third-party. Based on the information, USA Swimming retained an independent private investigator and conducted a full investigation into the rumor and the possible Code of Conduct violation.

     “During the USA Swimming investigation, both Ariana and Hutchison, as well as Ariana’s sister, Emily, unequivocally denied the existence of a romantic or sexual relationship.

     With the denials from both parties, the investigation provided no basis to conclude that a Code of Conduct violation occurred, and the case was closed. Hutchison left coaching shortly thereafter but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of a member club based in Seattle.

     “In January 2018, USA Swimming was notified of a Center for Safe Sport case regarding Hutchison and we have proactively sent over the 2010 case file to aid their investigation and support in any possible way.

     “Over the last several years, Ariana has worked with USA Swimming as on-camera talent in its digital productions and has truly become a member of the family. We stand by her, and all other victims, in their quest to break their silence and confront their horrific experiences.”

    USA Swimming said it hired a private investigator in 2010 after learning of rumored relationship between Hutchison and Kukors, who was then 21. The organization said both parties denied a romantic or sexual relationship and the investigation was closed without penalties.

    Hutchison left coaching afterward but remains a member of USA Swimming as the owner of member club King Aquatic near Seattle, the organization said.

    King Aquatic sent KIRO 7 News the following statement:

    “King Aquatics is devoted to the healthy development and safety of young swimmers and athletes.  Last night’s news broke our collective hearts. Ariana Kukors is part of the King Aquatic family and we only want the best for her.  Our staff is meeting to review this devastating news. Sean Hutchison is an executive with King but has had no direct interaction with our swimmers for a very long time.  We support all of the past and current King Aquatic swimmers, and that will continue to be our number one priority.”

    Authorities, which notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security because of potential crimes outside the state, say detectives are working to determine what crimes are within the statute of limitations, where else they may have occurred and whether other potential victims or witnesses exist.

    Kukors said she came forward to empower other victims.

    Anyone with information or concerns related to the case should call the Homeland Security office in Seattle at 206-442-1469.


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