David Kuck, who was hired as head coach by the Canyons Aquatic Club two years ago, is now suing the swim club for wrongful termination, alleging he was fired for blowing the whistle on crimes implicating the late child sex crimes suspect Jeremy Anderson.
Attorneys representing Kuck filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorney Hajir Ardebili with the law firm Skiermont Derby said Thursday.
“The writing is on the wall,” Ardebili said. “This is a textbook case of whistleblower retaliation.”
Carole Horst, president of the Canyons Aquatic Club, responded to news of the lawsuit in writing Wednesday, saying: “All matters regarding personnel, current or past, are private matters and we do not comment on private matters.”
The lawsuit alleges Canyons Aquatic Club and its parent organization, USA Swimming, failed to take action in response to repeated complaints made by Kuck involving “predator” coach Anderson, known informally as Jay Anderson.
Anderson, an accomplished SCV swim coach, died in June just as he was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Costa Rica on suspicion of performing lewd acts with a child.
The lawsuit alleges that Kuck was fired after, and in part because, he notified officials from Canyons Aquatic Club, as well as USA Swimming and its regional arm Southern California Swimming, of multiple incidents of sexual and other forms of abuse committed by Anderson.
Sexual abuse claims
“The lawsuit alleges that despite Mr. Kuck reporting multiple allegations of Anderson’s abuse, including sexual abuse, to the club board, the board refused to act unless directed to do so by USA Swimming,” Ardebili was quoted as saying in a news release issued late Wednesday.
Kuck was hired by Canyons Aquatic Club in July 2017 and began work the following month.
He came to the local club from SwimMAC, a nationally prominent club in North Carolina.
He joined SwimMAC in 2015 — working under 2016 Women’s Olympic Team head coach David Marsh — after coaching at Dublin Swim Teams in Dublin, Ohio, and Westerville Aquatic Club in Ohio, where he was the head age group and assistant senior coach.
Kuck swam collegiately at Ohio State University.
The lawsuit states that, almost immediately after joining the local swim club, Kuck noticed and reported Anderson’s abusive behavior to the board of directors.
Kuck alleges in his lawsuit that he provided the board with multiple reports of abuse over the course of several months, and expressed his fear that Anderson was engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with minor male swimmers.
During this time period, the lawsuit alleges, a former board member told Kuck that USA Swimming and fellow board members were, and had been, aware of Anderson’s conduct, but refused to act.
By mid-November 2017, it is alleged that Kuck was in communication with officials from the Center for Safe Sport and Southern California Swimming, seeking immediate assistance and action regarding Anderson.
The board gave Kuck approval to terminate Anderson at the end of 2017, according to the lawsuit.
The board only did so, however, after being notified that the Sheriff’s Department planned to carry out immediate action related to Anderson at College of the Canyons, where Canyons Aquatic Club is based.
The lawsuit alleges that, even after the board allowed for Anderson’s termination, the board silenced Kuck by barring him from notifying any staff or club member of his concerns regarding Anderson for fear of attracting lawsuits or prompting additional victims to come forward.
The lawsuit further alleges that, in April 2018, a number of inappropriate text messages from Anderson were discovered on a young athlete’s phone.
The chain of text messages between Anderson and the boy allegedly revealed the names of other athletes who had apparently been victimized by Anderson. This, allegedly, helped fuel the criminal investigation into Anderson that was finally made public in June 2019.
The lawsuit alleges that, beginning in December 2017, the club retaliated against Kuck by refusing to pay his bonuses while honoring that same obligation to other employees.
Kuck alleges that, shortly before he was fired, he discovered the club had been operating illegally as a suspended California corporation, and notified the board. Kuck alleges his refusal to remain silent while the board continued to operate Canyons Aquatic Club without regard for California law was another factor in his termination.
In July 2019, Kuck again approached the board, this time in response to several reports of bullying and other athlete misconduct that were brought to Kuck’s attention by team parents.
According to the lawsuit, Kuck reiterated his view to the board and staff that Canyons Aquatic Club fostered a culture that discouraged reporting, monitoring and addressing abuses such as those committed by Anderson, and that this culture is what allowed and condoned Anderson’s conduct.
The club then fired Kuck, as well as his wife, another coach on the staff, the lawsuit alleges.
The club also terminated the memberships of Kuck’s three children, effective immediately. At the time of Kuck’s termination, the club did not present him with his final paycheck, nor pay him the bonuses or the unused vacation time that he was owed, nor issue his final wage statement, the lawsuit alleges.
On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt