This once-prominent swimming coach who trained thousands of children was sentenced to seven years in prison a week ago for sexually terrorizing one of the girls he instructed.
Richard J. Curl, who last year was banned for life from the sport by USA Swimming, apologized for abusing the girl over a four-year period in the 1980s. The abuse started when she was 13 and took place in their respective homes, inside his private school office and at hotels where they stayed for swim meets. He was charged last year after the allegations of abuse against the woman, Kelley Davies Currin, became public.
The pedophile turned to the woman inside a courtroom packed with his supporters, apologized, and told her, “Every day of my life has been spent thinking and feeling awful about my behavior.”
Sentencing guidelines called for a punishment of up to 15 years, though Curl’s lawyers argued that he had reformed himself and should receive probation. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marielsa Bernard imposed a 15-year sentence, with all but seven years suspended, and directed him to have no contact with Currin.
The sentencing capped a precipitous fall for a beast who was once one of the nation’s most prominent swim coaches, responsible for building up a well-known swim club in the Washington area and training pupils including 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan.
The now-43-year-old victim told media after the sentencing that Congress should investigate USA Swimming for protecting “predator coaches” and allowing them to keep their jobs despite sex abuse allegations. She called Curl’s abuse of her “the worst-kept secret in Washington, D.C., and, indeed, in the swimming world.”
Curl, 63, of Vienna, Va., pleaded guilty in February to abusing Currin over four years starting when she was 13, though they had first met years earlier.
Prosecutors say he manipulated and groomed the girl, telling her repeatedly that he loved her and would ultimately marry her even while he became engaged – and then married – to a woman. Currin, who recounted to a judge her adult struggles with alcoholism, an eating disorder and bouts of therapy, recalled how she craved Curl’s attention as a child, dancing with him at his wedding and going with her parents to the hospital to meet his newborn baby. She said Curl even promised her that he’d name a child after her.