USA Swimming has been named in a lawsuit filed by a teenage girl and her parents, alleging that one of its male coaches sexually abused her in 2017. Also named in the lawsuit is the Capital Area Swim Team, along with the coach, his girlfriend, and the swim club where the incidents occurred, Titan Fitness North Carolina. The minor alleges that the defendants either were aware of the assaults or maintained an atmosphere conducive to abuse.
The coach, Nathan Weddle, was arrested after charges were filed at the end of 2017. He was also banned from any USA Swimming activities and facilities by the U.S. Center for SafeSport in January of 2018.
As part of a plea agreement, he later pleaded guilty to one charge of engaging in a sexual act with a child and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. The agreement reduced the charges from seven counts of taking indecent liberties and three counts of engaging with a minor for sex. He has also been charged with intentional infliction of emotional distress for taking advantage of the minor.
Allegedly, Weddle told the 15-year-old minor that she was his girlfriend and that he was in love with her. He is accused of telling her that they should go to the Caribbean for a romantic vacation, and told her that he wanted to break up with his current girlfriend, another coach at the facility, so that he could be with her. In the suit, he is also accused of sending inappropriate text messages, kissing her, fondling her, and performing other sex acts with her.
The lawsuit also alleges that his girlfriend, Shannon Foster, knew about the abuse and did nothing to help the minor. Allegedly, Foster had a heated conversation over the phone with the minor and blamed her for destroying her relationship with Weddle. The suit is alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress against Foster based on that phone conversation, as well as negligence and gross negligence against her for ignoring the injustice. Foster has since confessed that she was aware of the abuse.
USA Swimming, Capital Area Swim Team, and Titan Fitness North Carolina are named in the lawsuit for providing an environment that enables this type of abuse. Allegedly, facility staff should have noticed Weddle following the minor into a family changing area, where some of the abuse occurred. The suit also alleges that USA Swimming has attempted to hide these types of allegations in the past, and was slow to ban Foster after the family complained when Weddle was initially arrested and banned. She wasn’t banned until March of 2018.
If you or someone that you care about has been the victim of sexual harassment, contact KBA Attorneys today. With our years of experience dealing with the rights of sexual harassment victims, our team will be able to provide you with the highest quality of representation, making sure that all of your rights are protected, and get you the compensation that you deserve.