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3News Investigates: The dark side of the international Olympic stage

An organization authorized by Congress compiles a list of coaches banned from the Olympics for sexual misconduct and abuse. Eight are from Northeast Ohio.

CLEVELAND — Olympic sports: They’re the world’s most competitive, exciting, and historic moments that set the athletic bar.

But on the other side of the international stage is a world of sexual abuse.

Olympic coaches and support staff who’ve preyed on athletes have landed themselves in a legal world of allegations and, in some cases, removal from the competitive world.

The U.S. Center for Safe Sport is an organization authorized by Congress to track abuse among Olympic athletes, coaches and other staff.

The organization’s Centralized Disciplinary Database is a place you’ll find every “participant,” the title used by the organization for any coach or staffer with a membership with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, or USOPC,  from any Olympic sport, whose been charged or convicted of a sex crime against an athlete.

The database also illustrates discipline they received by the USOPC.

U.S. Safe Sport officials said participants can be listed in the database for three reasons:

  • If they’re convicted of a sexual crime in a court of law.
  • If an internal investigation by the organization finds the participant has violated the organization's code of conduct.
  • Be temporarily listed in the database as an investigation pends in a court of law or within the organization.

“The database is the first of its kind,” a spokesperson for the organizations, Daniel Hill said. “It’s intended to bring more accountability so that participants, organizations, others are aware of individuals who have been sanctioned by the center.”

The database lists over 1,700 participants. On it you can find some of the most headlining convicted physicians, such as Larry Nassar, who abused hundreds of Olympic gymnasts in his nearly 20 years with U.S. gymnastics.

In a more detailed search, 3News investigates found among the hundreds of participants, 122 of them were in Ohio.

Eight of them are in northeast Ohio.

The names include Michael Thompson, a Canton volleyball coach who confessed to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old player in 2015. Thompson pleaded guilty to sexual battery and gross sexual imposition, and was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison.

Sam Seiple, a former McKinley High School swimming coach who pleaded guilty to having sex with a former student in 2017.

Thompson and Seiple are permanently ineligible to coach for Olympic sports, according to the database.

Also on the list is former U.S. figure skating coach William “Bill” Coyle, who was flagged as ineligible by the USOPC for criminal disposition of a minor.

Coyle resigned from the Greater Cleveland Council for Figure Skating Clubs in February, according to meeting minutes posted online.

SUBMIT A TIP: Is there an issue in your community that you feel we need to be aware of? Share it with our 3Investigates team by emailing investigate@wkyc.com.

Of the seven coaches from Northeast Ohio listed in the database, Peter Kim is one of the only coaches still coaching.

The former U.S. taekwondo coach was convicted of sexual battery in the early 2000s and was a registered sex offender in Ohio until 2013.

Kim is now the owner of a martial arts facility in Brunswick.

3News Investigates attempted to sit down with Kim, who refused a formal interview, saying we was trying to “put it all behind him”.

Off camera, Kim said he met with parents in May, addressing his past, and that 25 percent of his clients left the gym.

Sexual violence advocates told 3News Investigates all the time spent between athletes and coaches is often a fragile one that has led to a culture of abuse.

“I just think of power,” Taylr Ucker-Lauderman with the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence said. “Whether it be this type of a relationship where, like you said, the sport is your life, it is very difficult to navigate when someone is taking power over you. We can't expect for people to always feel comfortable saying what they need and saying what feels safe to them.”

The Olympic disciplinary actions taken against these coaches falls only within the jurisdiction of Olympic sports, Hill said.

U.S. Safe Sport officials said while there is no way to ensure these coaches don’t coach again, the database is meant to be a tool for parents or others when screening or doing a background check.

You can search the database yourself here.

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