‘FELT LIKE A HOSTAGE’
Olympian Ariana Kukors Claims Swim Coach Called Sex a ‘Gift’ for Her 18th Birthday
Ariana Kukors describes ‘grooming’ by Sean Hutchison that began at 13 and included him watching her shower, late-night text messages, and sex at competitions.
Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors on Friday detailed in 4,000 words how she claims her coach began grooming her for a sexual relationship starting at age 13.
Kukors, 28, went to police last month with claims that U.S. Olympic team swimming coach Sean Hutchison sexually assaulted her. Hutchison first became Kukors’ coach when she was 13, at King Aquatic Club near Seattle. Hutchison began “grooming” Kukors almost immediately, she said. He was 31.
Kukors said Hutchinson asked her if she was wearing underwear one day when she was 15.
“From that point on, everything was different,” she wrote. “I’d like to tell you it only happened a few times, but that was just the beginning of an extensive, abusive, and incredibly manipulative relationship that spanned the better part of the next decade of my life.”
“He began by having me sit on his lap when we were alone, then progressed to kissing me in elevators, and touching me over my clothes,” she wrote. “I’d never been physical with anyone before but I now found myself alone with him, engaging in sexual acts and trying to hide my embarrassment when he sat in the women’s locker room and watched me shower.”
Shortly after her 18th birthday, Kukors said Hutchison offered her a “gift”—sexual intercourse—while they were out of town at a swim competition.
“Sean snuck me into his [hotel] room to finally give me my ‘gift’; I’ll spare you the details, but the memory of that night will always haunt me,” she wrote.
Kukors said they were in a “relationship” for eight years.
“Sean was yelling at me every day,” she said. “I was suffering and felt like a hostage.”
For his part, the now-46-year-old Hutchison denied the abuse but says he had a “committed” relationship with Kukors for one year, once she reached the legal age of consent.
“At no time did I ever abuse Ariana Kukors or do anything with her that was not consensual. I absolutely deny having any sexual or romantic relationship with her before she was old enough to legally make those decisions for herself,” he said. “Prior to that time, I did nothing to ‘groom’ her.”
“I deeply regret that she would make these wild allegations all these years later,” he added.
According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Hutchison is also accused of taking explicit photos of Kukors when she was 17.
The Department of Homeland Security and local police executed a search warrant on Hutchison’s Seattle-area apartment earlier this week, according to representatives for Kukors. Authorities seized computers and cellphones during the raid, The Seattle Times reported.
Kukors went to police on Jan. 30, before publicly releasing details of the alleged abuse this week.
Hutchison, who had by 2010 emerged as a rising star in the Olympic coaching community, resigned from his post that year over rumors that he was romantically involved with Kukors.
When USA Swimming investigated the claims, Kukors says she answered 19 questions asked in a phone call by a private investigator.
“I was scared. I lied. I had never felt more alone in all my life,” she wrote. “Several weeks later, USA Swimming aggressively closed the book on the investigation, putting out a public statement saying they had found no wrongdoing, and calling rumors about Sean ‘malicious lies.’”
She added, “I think back on those times now, tearfully asking why no one helped me . . . why no one stepped in to save me from this monster. It’s still hard to comprehend, but Sean had perfected the art of grooming; I wasn’t even aware I needed saving.”
Hutchison was still listed as the CEO of King Aquatic Club, a premier Seattle-area swim team, until Thursday when he left the post.
The club’s head coach, Michael Brooks, said in a statement late Thursday that Hutchison “has had no direct interaction with our swimmers for a very long time.”