As a swim coach, Rick Curl was a huge success. Some of his swimmers broke work records, and some won Olympic medals. Curl is now banned for life from coaching by USA Swimming, the sport's official governing body in America. And on Thursday, Curl pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor. He is facing a possible 15-year prison sentence.
Curl's victim is now 43 years old, but she was barely a teenager when her swim coach started fondling her. Curl eventually established a five-year sexual relationship with the girl in the 1980s. At the time, Curl was in his 30s.
"This has had a lifelong impact on her," declared Debbie Feinstein, an Assistant State's Attorney in Montgomery County, Md. "[The impact] doesn't go away when you are in your formative years. And people talk about something being 'voluntary.' Voluntary -- when you are 13, 14, and 15 -- you're not in a 'voluntary' relationship with someone that's 20 years your senior, who is your coach. That is not 'voluntary.' That is abuse."
According to a police document, Curl had sex with the teenage girl at the Georgetown Preparatory School, and in various homes.
On Thursday, in a seventh floor courtroom, when asked by the judge if he is guilty of child sexual abuse, Curl, in a quiet but firm voice, answered, "Yes. Yes, your honor."
The victim's eyes occasionally misted up during the proceedings. News agencies usually shield the identity of sexual abuse victims, but Kelley Davies Currin has given the media permission to use her name and image. She declined interviews at this time.
In the courtroom, Curl never looked at his former student. Curl will be sentenced on May 23. Until then, he remains free on a $50,000 bond.
Curl and his attorneys declined comment after the hearing on the plea agreement.
Asked if authorities believe there might be other victims of child sexual abuse (by coach Rick Curl), the prosecutor said simply, "There is currently no active investigation."