STOCKTON — A jury in the Jane Doe v. USA Swimming case in Stockton found Nov. 15 that USA Swimming was not responsible for the actions committed by a coach employed by a California swim club.
After deliberating for less than three hours, the jury found that USA did not fall below the standard of care and was not responsible for the conduct of former Stockton Swim Club coach Shunichi Fujishima, who had been coach and chief executive officer with the nonprofit club since November 2016.
Last year, according to The Stockton Record, he took a team of 25 Stockton youths ages 7 to 17 on an eight-day trip to Japan to compete in the Age Group Championships at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. After the trip, several of them spoke glowingly of the experience. It is not known if Fujishima’s alleged victim was one of the youths on the trip.
“He was sexually assaulting me for seven months,” the plaintiff in the suit wrote in her restraining-order application. “He was also manipulating me, convincing me not to say anything and telling me this was normal/it’s okay.”
Fujishima pleaded guilty in August to sexual abuse charges and in October was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
USA Swimming said in a statement that it “is grateful to the jury for their time and consideration of this extremely important matter. While the decision correctly identifies who was responsible for this atrocious act, it does not right the wrong, nor should anyone forget that a child was harmed and that everyone needs to continue to do more to ensure a safer environment for our athletes.
“An independent body was presented USA Swimming’s athlete protection program, along with expert analysis, and concluded that USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program and initiatives met or exceeded the standard of care for a youth-serving organization.
“Today’s decision reinforces our course of action and strengthens our resolve to continue to focus on what is important – protecting our athletes and our membership.
“If you are a survivor of abuse, we encourage you to report to law enforcement and to the U.S. Center for SafeSport. USA Swimming also offers resources to survivors. For more information, visit www.usaswimming.org/report or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”