‘Never-Ending Cycle Of Young Girls’: Ex-Swimmer Accuses Hall Of Fame Coach Of Sexually Abusing Her

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John Oyewale Contributor
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A former high-level swimmer alleged Friday in a federal lawsuit that her Hall of Fame coach sexually abused her as a minor 15 years ago and that USA Swimming and other entities knew of the alleged abuse but failed to stop it, multiple outlets reported.

Amanda Le’s lawsuit lists her as “one of those girls” allegedly abused by “a known child rapist” who worked “as a youth swim coach,” the 33-page lawsuit filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts read, CNN reported. Individuals and organizations allegedly supported Joseph Bernal, the accused coach, “with infrastructure, position, and prestige for decades,” and allegedly “allowed him full access to a never-ending cycle of young girls to prey upon,” the lawsuit reportedly added.

Bernal sexually abused Le from approximately 2008 to 2014, the lawsuit alleged, according to the outlet. Founder of Bernal’s Gator Swim Club for amateur swimmers, Bernal reportedly coached Le from 2006 to 2010. (RELATED: Doctor Who Sexually Abused Gymnasts Stabbed Multiple Times In Prison)

Bernal coached at Fordham and Harvard universities, was a U.S. coaching staff member at the 1976, 1984 and 1988 Olympics, coached several Olympic medalists and world record holders and became an American Swim Coaches Hall of Famer in 2015, according to an obituary from the Glick Family Funeral Home.

USA Swimming permanently banned Bernal Feb. 23, 2016 over alleged “Sexual Misconduct,” according to a list curated by USA Swimming. The athlete Bernal allegedly abused was Le, identified as “Athlete A” in the lawsuit, CNN reported.

Bernal died Oct. 1, 2022, aged 82, according to his obituary.

“While what happened to her is sad, it’s far from uncommon,” Le’s attorney, Jon Little, told CNN. “People like Larry Nassar and Bernal, that produce Olympic medalists – as long as these guys produce medals and money, they can literally rape children. The system is designed to protect the producers. Getting rid of Nassar and Bernal does not change the problem.”

“But inside swimming, sadly, it was an open secret that he had sex with the children that he coached,” Little alleged in an interview with FOX59 News.

Little also revealed to FOX59 News that his first lawsuit against Bernal was on behalf of a young female athlete allegedly molested in the 1970s. Le’s lawsuit reportedly was Little’s second against Bernal.

Meanwhile, the nine-day 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials are underway in Indianapolis, Indiana in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, according to USA Swimming.