Hearing held over whether local swim coach accused of rape shoul - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Hearing held over whether local swim coach accused of rape should be banned from sport

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HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) -

A former swim coach at the Greater Holyoke YMCA may potentially be banned from the sport for life.

Randall Smith had coached at the Y for 31 years until he was fired for sexual abuse allegations in 2012.

A USA Swimming board panel discussed the matter with his attorney Monday night in a telephone hearing to decide if he should be permanently banned.

The side they didn't hear was Anna's.

"I just don't understand why a victim has to hear her tormentor's voice and be investigated by yet another person from their organization," Anna's mother Monica told CBS 3 in an interview last week.

In two years, Anna has given two sworn statements to the national board's investigators, her therapist has testified on her behalf after diagnosing her with PTSD, and even Anna's mother and brother have provided statements.

But last year, since Anna didn't want to face her accused rapist, they closed her case. That is until Monica threatened legal action.

"Otherwise, I'd be in their pile of closed cases, for "uncooperative witnesses". That's what they called her."

Monica says it's just the latest flaw in a system that has left them confused and alone since Anna first came forward.

"There were all kinds of social media back and forth that he was being falsely accused...nobody reached out to her to say, 'are you okay?' they just slammed the door on us."

When Monica first approached the YMCA over her daughter's allegations, they did terminate Smith, but she said that came with such intense public backlash, it took a toll on her daughter.

"What they did after my statement was create such a victim-blaming atmosphere that we weren't welcome there anymore...the way the community treats victims has to change."

The Holyoke YMCA issued a statement to CBS 3 Monday saying in part, "At the Greater Holyoke YMCA, the safety and well-being of children in our care always has been and always will be a top priority. We remain committed to our child safety practices."

Anna has not stayed silent though, using Twitter recently to fire back at her critics, saying, "Every time I think it should be difficult to love a child rapist, people surprise me."

Meantime, Smith is not the first coach USA Swimming banned in this state. There are four others, two who have been convicted of sex crimes.

Erick Lans, a former swimming coach in Seekonk was convicted and sentenced to 8-10 years in prison for raping four girls in a Seekonk High School storage room. He's now listed as a Level 3 sex offender.

Timothy Kelly, who used to coach at Attleboro's YMCA and North Attleboro's high school, in 2011 was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for child pornography possession.

Monica and her family hope one more name gets added to the list of those banned for life.

"As a coach, it's up to them to police him, we've done everything we can."

After Monday night's three hour long hearing, Smith's attorney, Michael Aleo issued a statement to CBS 3 saying, "At the hearing, Mr. Smith maintained his innocence and presented evidence that demonstrates his credibility. He will comment further after USA Swimming renders its decision."

USA Swimming told CBS 3 they cannot comment on Smith's open case. 

However, they are launching a new program next year called "SwimAssist" that will provide professional support and counseling for members who have been abused. The organization's President, Jim Sheehan, also spoke out against media allegations of sexual abuse in the sport. That letter can be read here.

A chart shows how the organization determines whether a case should go to hearing, that can be found here.

Meantime, a decision over whether Smith will be banned is not expected for weeks.

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