USA Diving faces second lawsuit accusing the organization of failing to protect athletes from sexual abusers

By Scooby Axson
October 02, 2018

A federal lawsuit filed against USA Diving and an Indiana diving school says the organizations continue to not protect athletes from sexual abuse and that coaches who were the subject of allegations continue to teach in USA Diving.

The class action lawsuit that was filed Sunday and names Indianapolis-based USA Diving, RipFest, a diving club located in Arcadia, Indiana and former U.S. Olympic coach John Wingfield as defendants.

According to the lawsuit obtained by the Indianapolis Star, several coaches at RipFest were touching athletes and the diving club allowed "a culture that tolerated sexual harassment, objectification, assault and abuse" and also didn't protect the female athletes from sexual abuse by a coach, Johel Ramirez.

Ramirez was convicted of battery last month and sentenced to more than a year and a half in jail. He is also named a defendant in the lawsuit.

A different class action lawsuit was filed in July accuses former USA Diving coach Will Bohonyi of coercing and forcing two of his former athletes into having sex.

"Last year, when we became aware of allegations against Ramirez, we immediately removed him from our program, instructed him not to return to our facility pending the outcome of the investigation and terminated him," RipFest said in a statement. "RipFest Diving remains committed to providing the highest quality training for our diving students in an extremely professional and safe environment."

One of the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit said that Ramirez touched her outside of her swimsuit a dozen times while he was stretching her.

The suit that many athletes complained about Ramirez's behavior to Wingfield, and Wingfield allegedly the athletes that Ramirez is "Venezuelan, and that is just how they are."

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages, and want USA Diving to implement new measures to protect athletes.

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