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Bay Area victims' attorney seeks to oust legendary Pleasanton swim coach

Original post made on Jul 8, 2020

An attorney representing several sexual abuse victims in a lawsuit has demanded the removal of Pleasanton Seahawks coach Steve Morsilli from USA Swimming for allegedly failing to report abuse complaints made against another coach.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 8:40 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by Scatching the surface
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 12:17 pm

This is GREAT news!! Get rid of these Pedophile swim coaches!!!! Please, swimmers, if you've been sexually abused by a coach, please, please, please step forward and turn them in!! Pedophile coaches ARE out there preying on children. If you've been sexually abused and you turn them in (even if this happened many years ago) you will be protecting future swimmers. Sexually abused swimmers have nothing to be ashamed of. The pedophile coaches took advanage of you - used their position of authority to sexually abuse you. Question your children about rumors of sexual abuse happening.

Posted by USA-S official
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:43 pm

you need to correct this statement: "Allard is also seeking the removal of two other Tri-Valley coaches, Millie Nygren of Pleasanton and Clint Benton of Concord, for not reporting complaints about sexual abuse at the hands of former coach Andy King" Millie Nygren and Clint Benson are USA Swimming officials in the Pacific Swimming LSC.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Morsilli's responses are just as damning as the complaint. And he doesn't even see it.

He told the victim to report the issue. SHE WAS REPORTING IT! Those coaches should have been relieved of coaching duties immediately, to be followed by an investigation of the allegations including law enforcement. Oh man. He told her to go report it. That's rich.

Is this guy really still coaching here? Seriously. Is he?

Posted by Mandated reporter?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Aren't coaches and teachers, school board members, child care workers, clergy, and so on, mandated reporters under State law? That is what I thought. Aren't mandated reporters required to contact the police and/or CPS for abuse within something like 24 hours?

The law states these issues must be reported to law enforcement and or CPS, yet the Mercury News has copies of emails on their website where these coaches and management decided to keep Andy King's behavior confidential in 2003? How can this possibly be the case that there was an agreement to keep it confidential under the mandated reporter laws?

Posted by Explain this Steve and Clint...
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Steve and Clint: explain the emails with your name on them.... Web Link

Posted by USA Swimming Mandatory Reporter
a resident of another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Here are the requirements for mandatory reporter with USA Swimming. An important note:
" How Do I Protect Myself?
• By making the report! The only consequence is
for NOT reporting"

Web Link

Steve M and all of the people listed did not report what they were told - they have a pledge as coaches and officials to keep children safe. Period!

Who is a Covered Individual (mandatory reporter) in USA Swimming?
• Coaches
• Athletes
• Officials
• Meet Directors
• Team Chaperones
• Participating Non-Member
• USA Swimming Board members and national
committee members
• Individuals with ownership interest in a
member club

Posted by We believe you,Miranda!
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:12 pm

Miranda Heckman's Instagram post 7/8/20
You will not silence me. You will not silence the others. You will look into my eyes as well as all of the other athletes you have hurt, and face what you have done. But you will also come to realize that you are not what defines us. You do not have power over me or my future.
I am posting today to bring attention to the fact that there have been attempts to silence me in my process to bring awareness to the abuse that myself amongst many others have faced for countless years from Steve Morsilli. You did sexually abuse me. You did physically abuse me. You did verbally abuse me. You did emotionally abuse me. The saddest part to me though? Is the stone cold fact that I am not the first, but I want to be the last. Those chains that you had once threatened and bound me with are broken and I am here to fight for myself and many others. The words I have ushered throughout this process have been only the truth. I still stand by my words when I say that I am here to support other athletes that are coming forward and addressing their abuse stories. Those threats you once used to silence me are now more reason for me to use my voice with all of the strength I now know it holds.
I am here to share my story, and it will be heard. Sadly, my story is one that is far too common. Many athletes have faced abuse from their coaches, but no matter how common something is it still does not make it acceptable. I am here to speak for those that still hurt too much to find their own voices. I will confront you for not only myself, but for those you have hurt, are currently hurting, and could potentially hurt.
I will be heard. They will be heard. And you will not be able to ignore this any longer.
-Miranda Heckman

Posted by Mandated reporter?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2020 at 12:50 am

Why is it that the Pleasanton school district and city of Pleasanton seems to have some sort of embedded relationship with these coaches that used to be on the website as a coach and are suddenly removed from the website? Why did the Pleasanton school district gift her $40,000 in a settlement?

For example, in the internet archive Lauren Andrade of the Pleasanton Seahawks was listed as the Senior Assistant Coach, but by 2014 she was removed from the website of the Pleasanton Seahawks coaching staff:

"Lauren Andrade
Senior Assistant Coach

Lauren Andrade currently serves as the assistant coach for the Senior Elite and Senior groups. Lauren competed for a U.S.S. team for 20 years during which time she competed nationally and internationally. In college, Lauren swam for the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her Bachelors Degree in History from Berkeley and Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis. Lauren has previously coached at Newark Memorial High School, Irvington High School and Foothill High School – where Lauren currently teaches."

If her teaching credential was revoked 'pending misconduct' as listed on the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, why is there absolutely no documentation regarding it in relation to US Safesports and USA Swimming?

Posted by Hmmmmmm
a resident of Foothill Place
on Jul 9, 2020 at 1:14 am

Lauren Andrade cover up???

Posted by Those sabbaticals
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2020 at 12:37 pm

So Steve Morsilli would take sabbaticals every few years for a season, which seemed ridiculous to me, but one year Lauren Andrade covered all fall season. There was no coaching and since she was the Foothill coach, those kids were allowed to come late for practice. Steve was very strict with being on time, but I felt that we were paying for a level 5 coach and not a babysitter for the Senior Elite Group and we got a babysitter.

Posted by hmmmmmm
a resident of Foothill Place
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Maybe the reason for the misconduct investigation and revoking of Andrade’s teaching credential didn’t have anything to do with the Seahawks. She was the varsity swim coach at FHS and a teacher there.

Posted by Report Report Report
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Do your research, Pleasanton. If you as a current swimmer, former swimmer, coach, Board member, swim official or swim parent have anything that you want to report, please contact US Center for Safe Sport with your concerns. It has been decided that US Center for Safe Sport will have jurisdiction over any matters concerning Steve Morsilli and the Pleasanton Seahawks. You can call Allyson, Intake Administrator at U.S. Center for SafeSport at (720)731-4426. "The Center opened its doors in Denver, Colorado, in March 2017, and soon after became federally authorized under the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 (which became Public Law No: 115-126 on February 14, 2018)" You may also call USA Swimming Safe Sport (720) 524-5640, or file an anonymous report. For years, so many swimmers and theirs have been afraid to report their concerns, because Steve and his Board will silence you or threaten you with a lawsuit if you talk about any of this. Web Link Anyone else find it horrifying that the Seahawks team are listed as a "Safe Sport" club on their website (Lucy Jhong, director) All of the current and former board members are mandatory reporters: Kennan Rooney (Livermore) has been President for years. They must report anything that a member or athlete tells them if it endangers the physical, emotional, safety and well-being of its members. If you believe Steve Morsilli should be removed from the pool deck with minors present until these allegations are investigated, please consider calling these two organizations to voice your concern. After reading all of the comments for the last 3 weeks, there is NO WAY I would want my children to be anywhere near this Coach or his other coaches that have been reported to have been abusive or inappropriate with minors in their presence.

Posted by Question
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Someone above mentioned mandatory reporters, and I would add that the swimmer making the accusations has a father who was a swimming official and also works in law enforcement. Why is he not reporting now since his daughter has publicly said she was sexually abused? The daughter is an adult now, but there are minors on the team. He has a duty to report. Not reporting and making a false report are both punished in CA, with jail time and fines.

Posted by Petition Time?
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Anyone else think it is time to petition this community for removal of the Pleasanton Seahawks from our community's Aquatic Center and build better and comprehensive programming to serve the community as a whole? Here's who to contact:
Michelle Stearns, Recreation Manager (former Aquatic Center director)
Jerry Thorne, Mayor (founding member Seahawks, kids swam)
Kathy Narum, Vice Mayor (former Board President Seahawks, kids swam)
Jerry Pentin, Councilmember
Karla Brown, Councilmember

Posted by re:questions
a resident of San Ramon
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:46 pm

if you look up under the Safe Sport sites mentioned in this thread, there is no time limitation to report. Most commenters here probably have no idea what has been reported to CPS, local police, or USA Swimming. Most likely that information is kept confidential. Remember the current lawsuit against USA Swimming is that coaches failed to report the allegations that were reported to them. And even if reported, no action was taken by USA Swimming against the coaches. Sounds like Steve M. has a long history of threatening people or kicking them off if they try to report. Let this all go to an investigator or court hearing. That's the only court of opinion that counts.

Posted by Confused
a resident of Valley Trails
on Jul 9, 2020 at 3:55 pm

The former Seahawks swimmer said, according to a comment above, " You did sexually abuse me. You did physically abuse me. You did verbally abuse me" and the article states "Heckman has not taken any legal action against Morsilli or USA Swimming but her attorney, Jim Wagstaffe, told the Weekly, "I believe any time a coach enables bullying ... then I think we're past the time when we need coaches like that." Why is the focus on verbal abuse when a more serious sexual abuse accusation has also been made? And why isn't Allard representing the former Seahawks swimmer? Why is she with an attorney whose main area is privacy ? : "Adjunct Professor James M. Wagstaffe, a partner of Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP, specializes in defamation, privacy and intellectual property litigation. Professor Wagstaffe handles diverse cases in California courts and federal courts throughout the country." Web Link

Posted by No way...
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2020 at 6:52 pm

No way....The parents are not the ones in question here. It's Morisilli, his coaches, and breakdowns in judgement that have led to this lawsuit. If this 19 year old girl experienced these abuses, they need to be talked about and redress needs to be taken....period. Forget Alan King for now, a 19 year old girl, who is one of our own in Livermore is going to be heard!!!

This will discredit the City of Pleasanton the longer it drags on. City leadership needs to make some decisions.

Posted by Agree
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2020 at 7:54 pm

" Forget Alan King for now, a 19 year old girl, who is one of our own in Livermore is going to be heard!!! "

I think that is what everyone wants!

The victims represented by Allard gave specific details, and I assume they have evidence since they are suing various entities.

The former PLS swimmer only posted on social media and has so far not provided any proof of the sexual abuse she claims happened.

Imagine if your life and career could be destroyed just because someone accuses you on their instagram!

Pleasanton police: please start an investigatio asap, interview both the alleged victim and the alleged abuser, and bring it to the attention of the DA if you indeed determine that sexual abuse took place. Likewise, if the allegations turn out to be false, something must be done about it.

Posted by MK
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Morsilli is a supportive coach and wonderful role model. He is a family man, dedicated to them, his team, and his work.

Posted by Get rid of him
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2020 at 8:31 pm

The people supporting Steve are the ones who benefitted from his BS rules and favoritism. I hope that the city of Pleasanton will remove this team from the aquatic center.

Posted by Danielle Stickler
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 9, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Steve is a good man. I swam with Steve for over 10 years and he changed my life for the better. Seeing his good name and reputation dragged through the mud like this by people that do not even know him is appalling. He gives his whole heart to swimming and his team, he pushes you to grow in ways you never thought were possible and I will forever be a better person because of Steve. Please do not ruin a good man's lifelong career with these damaging comments, you do not know him. If you did, you would not be saying these things. Steve Morsilli is a hero to so many, but beyond that Steve Morsilli is one of the best things to ever have happened to the Pleasanton community and USA Swimming.

Posted by re: @danielle s.
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 9, 2020 at 9:58 pm

@danielle, it's great that you can say you had a positive experience with steve. but who are you to say that the people commented here don't know Steve? based on many comments, they obviously have had a very negative and unsafe experience with Steve and his team. do you know miranda? did you swim with his "elite" group while she was there? were you given special treatment by even being in that group? were you a major source of negative gossip? every single athlete that swam in steve's group needs to take responsibility for their part in making this toxic environment for others. just because you think you had a good experience with him, doesn't mean you can discredit everyone else that had a terrible experience with him.

Posted by Why aren't the Police involved, Pleasanton Weekly?
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 9, 2020 at 11:09 pm

@Julie Baum, Pleasanton Weekly: Are the Pleasanton and/ or Livermore Police involved in this? Does it matter that it was on instagram? anyone that is a mandatory reporter has the obligation to report what they read on her instagram. Coaches, officials, board members, chaperones, teachers, should all have called the Pleasanton and Livermore police, CPS (since she lives in Livermore and swam in Pleasanton).
Pleasanton Police (925) 931-5100
Livermore Police (925) 371-4900

Posted by Seahawk, Class of 19
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 10, 2020 at 12:19 am

These accusations are a joke and the number of people claiming to be experts on Steve Morsilli are even more laughable.

Miranda was the worst teammate I’ve ever had. She constantly disrespected Coach Steve and her teammates, listened to her headphones during workout time, refused to wear team gear on our team-paid travel trips, would drop F bombs on us after losing in races, and would skip practice because of family issues. She missed our team-building events in favor attending events for college. She made NO effort to be part of the team and played victim (as she is doing now) when people didn’t invest time into her. She was toxic to our group and made it hard for us to mentor the newer swimmers in our group as per tradition.

She even missed our class photo that we took during graduation time because she was too busy putting on makeup in her car. She had zero discipline and pointed fingers at other people for her failures in swimming as she aged, as she is doing now after he failure to perform in college. I thought I was done dealing with her drama, but I guess she’s looking to stir up more to fuel her endless hunger for attention. She’s getting it.

Posted by Remember this...
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:51 am

When Andy King was arrested, many parents publicly came to his defense. They called him a great coach and said he was not capable of sexually abusing kids. They said the victims were liars. Well, King was capable and he did abuse many - more than a dozen girls and is serving a 40-year prison term. The point is, predators not only groom the child for their sexual gratification, they groom the community as well. Sexual predators need the support of the community to keep doing what they are doing - to create an environment so that when a victim does come forward, she is automatically questioned and not believed. It comes down to who do you believe, "a great coach or a young girl?" Keep that in mind as victims courageously come forward and are questioned by swim parents.

Posted by Think about it
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 6:34 am

@Remember this: Brian Banks was falsely accused of sexual abuse and went to jail for years. His accuser later admitted she made it all up. But at the time of his arrest, trial, everyone simply believed the accuser; years later, we found out she was lying.

Andy King's victim provided details of her abuse.

The former PLS swimmer has not given any details of her alleged abuse; her attorney is a defamation type of attorney; her father, a law enforcement person has not filed a police report to the best of my knowledge (if he had, there would be an active investigation). This seems very strange from someone who is being very loud on social media about her alleged abuse. The family seems to be able to afford legal fees as they have retained an attorney. Why did they retain a defamation type of attorney instead of one who, like Allard, specializes in sexual abuse?

Abuse happens, but so do false accusations.

You can't expect lives to be destroyed based on an accusation made on social media.

Posted by Stop minimizing this
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 7:54 am

@Think about it - you are doing exactly what I pointed out. You are calling into question the credibility of the victim. If you know anything about sexual abuse, less than 1% of the accusations are false. Do you really expect a woman or young girl to publicly come forward and divulge details of a sexual crime when such a sexual crime brings shame, humiliation and embarrassment? When they do, there is a reason, and it is not nefarious as you are implying. Let's turn this around, you question the motives of this young woman. Why are you not asking with Steve Morsilli has not sued her for defamation? Why? Is it because she is telling the truth and the truth wins out over defamation? Or Morsilli just a good guy who feels sorry for her?

Posted by Can't have it both ways
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:06 am

" Do you really expect a woman or young girl to publicly come forward and divulge details of a sexual crime when such a sexual crime brings shame, humiliation and embarrassment? "

The swimmer herself has said she will be heard, that she will not be silenced. She could have been a Jane Doe and remain anonymous had she filed a police report and gone to court. (remember the Turner case, the victim's name was protected and did not become public until she chose to do so herself)

There have been false accusations, we cannot know what is true here. It seems like a situation where she wants to accuse without being held accountable.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:22 am

Yes, this also seems to me like a situation where the former PLS swimmer wants to publicly accuse without being held accountable should her accusations prove to be false.

And the only way to see if the sexual abuse accusations are true or not is by having the police investigate the claims.

Posted by Silence
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:34 am

The documentation proves that Steve Morsilli is guilty of knowing that abuse was going on and did nothing to expose it. The abuser was convicted and sentenced to prison with no help from Steve. Steve is guilty of enabling a sexual predator and should be removed from having anything to do with youth swimming. This is not she said he said problem it is a fact that is supported with documentation of complaints that Steve dealt with. Steve's own accountability for his own abuse of swimmers is coming to light but even if proven not true does not mitigate that he was aware of a coach that was a proven to a criminal sexual predator. The swim culture of win at all contest by Steve included look the other way if a coach is creating winning swimmers.

Posted by Anonmous
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 10, 2020 at 8:55 am

There is no official documentation that supports the former PLS swimmer's accusations; so far we just have her social media posts.

Again, the only way to find out the truth is to have the police investigate the sexual abuse claims.

Posted by Imbalance of power is wrong
a resident of Danville
on Jul 10, 2020 at 11:46 am

While the allegations against Morsilli are being investigated, please look at the other coaches and board members that were reported to steve and he covered it up and let them still be on deck with minors 1. Brian Holm: he's back coaching Seahawks. He was sent to anger management training with a Bay Area rec team before he was hired by Steve the first time. Many parents made Steve aware that Brian was verbally and physically abusive to minors and still hired. He continued this abuse at the Seahawks. When swimmers complained about bullying, they received more abuse from Brian and if their parents complained, they were thrown off the deck and eventually the team. In fact, Steve forbids parents to be on deck watching. This is in violation of USA Swimming standards for safety. 2. Jon Pallesen: fired from Amador Valley HS after years of complaints of inappropriate behavior with minors. He also had many complaints of inappropriate comments to young women on the Seahawks. He was also fired by Ruby Hill swim team. 3. Regis La Chance: parent of two Seahawk swimmers known to Steve and his board to be a registered sex offender, was allowed to be on deck with swimmers and even served on Steve's board.

The fact is Steve Morsilli has created a culture of bullying and power imbalance between coaches and swimmers. According to USA Swimming Safe Sport:

"Bullying is more than simply rude or mean actions, it is unwanted behavior among peers that involves real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated and occurs over time. Bullying and harassment should never be tolerated and goes against the core values of USA Swimming."

Also this is exactly what is happening in the Tri Valley community regarding Miranda's public post. "When children have disclosed, or abuse has otherwise been discovered, there have been a number of cases in which parents, athletes, clubs and communities rally around an accused coach and ostracize the victim irrespective of the strength of the evidence. Understanding why this
happens—and stopping it is of critical importance to the organization since it deters children from disclosing abuse and may have a chilling effect that keeps others from reporting."

Posted by that's a joke
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Notice how a majority of the comments on this article are negative. The people claiming Steve is so great are the ones that kissed up to him (or their families kissed up to him). I witnessed it first hand, and it's laughable that there are people who defend him. You guys know you kissed up, spreaded gossip, and contributed to the toxicity. Please ban the entire organization. It's clearly unhealthy and has hurt many people.

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