Thursday, March 24, 2011

School Not Liable In USA Swimming Sex Taping Case

Last year, the media revealed numerous instances of sexual abuse by coaches affiliated with USA Swimming. One of the most notorious cases was that of Brian Hindson, who had arranged a secret video camera to tape female swimmers to whom he had given permission to change clothes in his office. After the video tapes were discovered years later, Hindson was convicted of criminal abuse and sentenced for 33 years in federal prison.

One of his victims, Brooke Taflinger, also brought a lawsuit against USA Swimming and the Indiana school district, Westfield-Washington, whose pool was the venue for Hindson's club team's practices and competitions. Recently, however, the federal district court in Indiana dismissed the Title IX claims against the school district. Though Hindson's team used the school district's pool, it was not part of Westfield-Washington's educational activities. Moreover, the plaintiff did not sufficiently allege that school district officials had notice of Hindson's secret taping, nor did she allege any facts on which they reasonably should have known such abuse was going on. The school district could have have been expected to know that this abuse was going on, where Hindson "deliberately sought to and did in fact conceal his criminal activity from everyone, including the school," said the court. In fact, Hindson successfully concealed the videotapes of plaintiff from everyone for 8 years; they were only revealed after Hindson sold his computer that still contained recorded footage. Based on these facts, the school district could not have known that Hindson was taping his swimmers, and should not be liable for it.

Decision: Taflinger v. Hindson, 2011 WL 304699 (S.D.Ind. January 26, 2011).