Attorney Samuel Dewey Discusses the U.S. Center for SafeSport Reporting USA Hockey to Congress
The U.S. Center for SafeSport has reported to USA Hockey to the Senate regarding its investigation into the sport’s national governing body. As legal expert Samuel Dewey points out, the congressional review of the investigation is still in its early stages, but it could have profound implications on USA Hockey.
In February, Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to USA Hockey’s board regarding its “compliance” and “cooperation” with the investigation being conducted by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The Center is responsible for investigating any sexual misconduct claims brought against the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
The Investigation Itself
The full nature of the investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport is unclear at this moment. Citing the policy of the Center regarding ongoing probes, a spokesperson for the organization wouldn’t comment for media outlets that contacted them recently.
It isn’t the first time USA Hockey has been investigated by the Center. They investigated Jim Smith, the former president of USA Hockey, after allegations that he mishandled some claims related to sexual abuse that involved Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas, a college and youth hockey coach in the Chicago area.
While the Center closed that investigation, Smith didn’t seek re-election as USA Hockey’s president following the incident. And USA Hockey is still a co-defendant in a federal lawsuit that was brought by some of Adrahtas’ victims in May of 2021.
Upon being notified of the Center’s investigation, Grassley immediately contacted USA Hockey officials to remind them of their legal obligations to comply with the investigation and further protect any of their athletes from cases of sexual abuse.
In a letter the Senator sent to USA Hockey, he referenced a previous investigation into Larry Nassar, a long-time team doctor for U.S. women’s gymnastics. After multiple allegations of abuse of women and girls in the organization, Nassar was ultimately arrested, convicted, and sentenced to spend 60 years in federal prison.
According to Sports Illustrated, in his letter, Grassley wrote to USA Hockey:
“As the Nassar case exemplifies, inaction may lead to many more victims being harmed, which would be intolerable.”
While the U.S. Center for SafeSport and the Senate don’t hold any powers to criminally charge anyone associated with USA Hockey, their involvement in the investigations can result in some serious outcomes.
The Nassar case is a prime example, of course.
But, as Sam Dewey explains, there are other instances where the Center’s investigation resulted in criminal action. The Center referred USA Badminton to Congress in 2021 for allegedly discouraging people from reporting sexual misconduct, and then encouraging people to conceal and destroy evidence related to the subject.
USA Badminton officials also refused to cooperate with the investigation the Center was conducting.
Grassley warned the officials of their obligations to comply under the law, and he ultimately referred the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In other words, while the Center doesn’t possess legal powers in and of itself, it does have immense influence when it comes to serious outcomes.
About Samuel Dewey
Sam Dewey is a successful lawyer and former Senior Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and Chief Investigator and Counsel to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. Mr. Dewey specializes in: (1) white-collar investigations, compliance, and litigation; (2) regulatory compliance and litigation; and (3) complex public policy matters. Within these fields, Mr. Dewey is considered an expert in Congressional investigations and attendant matters. Mr. Dewey has a B.A. in Political Science, a J.D. from Harvard, and is admitted to practice law in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.