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Md. swim coach pleads guilty to sex abuse charge

Thursday - 2/21/2013, 4:03pm  ET

Currin is not expected to speak at Curl's sentencing on May 23. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON - A local swim coach who used to train swimmers bound for the Olympics is now facing 15 years in jail and will have to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a child he coached in the 1980s.

Richard J. Curl of Vienna pleaded guilty Thursday morning to one count of child sexual abuse in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Curl will be sentenced May 23.

Police say 63-year-old Curl turned himself in on Thursday to face the charge, which came after police in August interviewed 43-year-old Kelley Davies Currin who said she had been abused by Curl when he coached her as a child.

Currin alleged that the abuse started with inappropriate touching when she was 13 and continued with sexual acts until she was 18. She says the abuse occurred at his former homes and at the swimming facilities at the Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda.

"This is not a happy day for her ... She's not here to see Mr. Curl suffer in any way," said Currin's attorney Debbie Feinstein, assistant state's attorney for Montgomery County. She described to reporters that the alleged abuse had a life-long impact.

On the notion that theirs was a consensual affair, Feinstein notes Currin knew Curl since she was 9 years old. Currin alleges the sexual abuse, which included fondling and escalated to sexual intercourse, started when Currin was 13.

"When you are 13, 14, 15, you're not in a voluntary relationship with someone who is 20 years your senior who is your coach. That is not voluntary ... That is, that's abuse," says Feinstein.

There are no other active investigations against Curl, prosecutors say. Curl has been banned from life from coaching by USA Swimming. The Curl-Burke Swim Club no longer goes by that name, but by Nation's Capital Swim Club.

Currin's attorneys released the following statement:

"Ms. Currin is pleased that justice is going to be carried out against Mr. Curl but there remains unfinished business. We hope that a similar fate is in store for those at USA Swimming who covered up for him over a period of literally decades. The current Vice President of USA Swimming has admitted in writing that knowledge about Mr. Curl "banging" his swimmers has gone back to as early as the late 1980's. An untold number of childhood sexual abuse has occurred due to the callous inaction of those who knew about Mr. Curl's sexual predilections and did absolutely nothing about it. We urge the authorities, as they did with Penn State, to now look into possible criminal conduct that has occurred within USA Swimming."

A phone message left for Curl at his Vienna, Va., was not immediately returned Thursday.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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