Ariana Kukors was a member of the 2012 Olympic swim team. Now, Kukors is coming forward to report that her road to the games was paved with alleged abuse at the hands of her former coach, Sean Hutchison. Like her compatriots at USA Gymnastics, who suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar, Kukors says that her coach first took advantage of her as a teen, grooming the elite swimmer for a sexual relationship that lasted into her 20s.
Detailing her allegations in The Washington Post, Kukors says that beginning at age 16, Hutchison began asking her for nude photos via text, and making sexual advances when the pair were left alone together. The now-28-year-old retired swimmer also accuses Hutchison of watching her shower, as well as arranging for solo “strategy sessions” during away trips that would always turn sexual. By the time she was 17, she says Hutchison told her he would marry her.
“It’s so strange looking back on it now and really understanding what was happening there, but in that moment, I believed that he and I were going to be together forever, and my life and my swimming career were all wrapped up in his hands,” Kukors told WaPo.
Kukors also admits that she has decided to come forward with her allegations now because she feels strength from the women who have accused Nassar of abuse, and drew inspiration from the victim impact statements during Nassar’s sentencing last month.
Kukors goes on to say that she and Hutchinson eventually had a consensual relationship. She also reports that USA Swimming got wind of the pair’s interactions and investigated Hutchison — according to the rules, coaches cannot and should not have sexual relationships with their team members. After a private investigator saw evidence of their affair, Hutchison resigned but denied having had a sexual relationship with a swimmer that he was coaching.
When approached, Kukors told USAS that she was not having an affair with her coach; Hutchinson was exonerated and the investigation was dropped. Kukors’ attorney now says that it is because, at that time, USAS was embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal and were happy to be rid of the issue at hand.
After breaking off her relationship with Hutchinson in 2013, Kukors says she was worried that she’d broken Hutchison’s heart, but says she realizes now that their relationship was built on an adult man grooming a teenage girl and not mutual romantic intent.
“I thought he loved me, and that I’d broken his heart when I left. . . . It took me a while to get to the point where I could acknowledge that I was a victim, and that wasn’t love, there was no consent,” she said. “It was abuse.”
Kukors also insists that her decision to come forward wasn’t motivated by the potential for financial gain. “If this was about money or a lawsuit, I wouldn’t be here,” Kukors admitted.
“This is for the spreading the message of grooming and the process that predators go through to gain victims’ trust… that is my focus right now.”
What do you make of Ariana Kukors’ allegations? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images for USOC)