I-Team: Local swimming coach banned for life as victim tells her story

FINDLAY, Ohio (WTVG) - A local swimming coach is now permanently banned from the USA national swimming organization after an investigation into sexual conduct with a minor.

Now that victim is breaking her silence, nearly 40 years later. She says she's finally found the courage to come forward. A story she says she vividly remembers.

{EDITOR NOTE: The victim, Dawn, has asked that we not reveal her last name}

Dawn remembers her days swimming at the old Sun Oil recreation center in Millbury. It's the last place dawn ever swam competitively.

"People knew I was good. I just felt a comfort in it," said Dawn.

The pain is still real when looking back at the end of her brief swimming career and her former coach Rick Moulton.

"He earned our trust. He earned my trust. He earned my family's trust. He earned a lot of girl's trust," said Dawn.

That trust was broken in the summer of 1981 when Dawn was 13.

She lived in Fulton County so getting back and forth to Millbury was a long trip. Sometimes girls from the swim team would stay at Moulton's nearby home.

“Somehow I ended up being the only girl that stayed there one night,” said Dawn.

She vividly remembers that night, staring at the clock, desperately waiting for the morning when her swimming routine resumed.

“Waiting for morning. Hoping he wouldn't come back in and getting up in the morning and driving to swim practice and having him grab my hand and tell me best friends keep secrets and this is our secret. I went to practice and I left and I never went back and I never told anybody for a long time. and I didn't tell anyone details for 38 years," said Dawn.

Recently Dawn's granddaughter said she'd like to swim like grandma did. It all hit Dawn, she decided the secrets of the past could no longer be secret.

“I spent everyday with him. He was almost like a dad to me," said Dawn.

USA Swimming permanently banned Moulton in January 2019. When dawn came forward in 2018, USA swimming asked a third party investigative organization to investigate. It's called the US Center for SafeSport, a group authorized by Congress in 2017 to safeguard athletes against abuse, including sexual abuse.

That SafeSport investigation, resulted in Moulton's permanent ban. SafeSport citing the violation: Sexual misconduct- involving a minor.

13abc made several attempts to reach Moulton over the last month. None of our messages were returned. We even visited a Findlay address listed as his but no one answered the door.

We did uncover more about his background, which includes high school coaching stints. Moulton coached the Saint Ursula swim team in the early 80's. Dawn was supposed to swim there in high school but gave up swimming before she arrived.

"I got asked a lot of questions and i never really addressed them," said Dawn.

A Saint Ursula spokeswoman tells 13abc they believe he may have coached sometime between 89-91. We were told the school does not have personnel records dating back that far. But a quick trip for us to the library found that tenure was actually longer. We found Moulton in the 1981 SUA yearbook with the girls swim team.

Moulton left our area at some point. There are some gaps in the timeline but here's what we've been able to uncover. After Ohio, Moulton ended up in Alabama. A media guide from Georgia Tech in 2004 says he coached at Vestavia Hills High School near Birmingham. A media guide from 2009-10 from the University of Alabama says Moulton coached at Spain Park High School about 7 miles away.

The trail goes cold until 2014. We find a Facebook page from "The Gym" in Oneota Alabama where Moulton is welcomed as the new swim coach for the Blount Oneota Aquatics team.

“Dawn never imagined she'd hear Rick's name again let alone see him until recently when she received a photo. Rick was back in town. He was coaching in Findlay.

"My heart is racing. I'm like he's here. He's here again," said Dawn.

Moulton coached the Findlay Area Swim Team, FAST for short. A representative with the club tells the I-Team Moulton coached there from August of 2015 until August of 2018. That's when he resigned.
FAST board treasurer Missy Spradlin told 13abc the club did not receive any complaints against Moulton during his time at FAST for sexual misconduct. We checked with Findlay police and they do not have any reports taken in regards to Moulton.

This USA Swimming permanent ban means he can't be around this Findlay swim club or any swim club for that matter. Thanks in part to Dawn's bravery.

She wants her story to give courage to anyone else who might be keeping the same secrets she was asked to keep.

"Don't be afraid. People are there to support you, help you, guide you. Counseling is available. Tell your story. Don't be ashamed. It wasn't your fault. Stop that person from going forward and doing it to someone else," said Dawn.

SafeSport says the organization is a mandatory reporter. A spokesperson tells 13abc they reported Dawn's claim to law enforcement but will not tell us what specific agency, citing privacy concerns. Moulton had a chance to appeal the SafeSport decision. He did not.