The German Swimming Association is likely to face a lawsuit worth millions. Former water jumper Jan Hempel wants to sue the association for seven-figure damages and damages for years of sexual abuse by his coach. This was announced by Hempel’s lawyer Thomas Summerer in the ARD “Sportschau”. “It is the most blatant case of abuse that German sport has ever experienced,” said Summerer.
With more than 1,200 cases of sexual abuse over a period of 14 years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you demand a large sum from the DSV, said the lawyer. It is a precedent in German sport that will be followed through with all consistency.
Hempel was abused by his late coach Werner Langer in the 1980s and 1990s. The 51-year-old, who won silver and bronze from the tower at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, went public with it last summer. This triggered a broad discussion about abuse and violence in German sport and how to deal with it.
Hempel accused the association of cover-up. The DSV then suspended the national coach Lutz Buschkow, who is said to have known about the attacks on Hempel, but did not do anything decisive. Buschkow said, however, that he only found out about the allegations of abuse when they were published. “The organization of the German Swimming Association has completely failed in the monitoring and control of its coaches. This organizational fault means that an association is liable,” said Summerer.
They have spoken to the association about compensation. There is a verbal declaration of intent that they want to make amends and pay compensation, but so far this has not happened. “Nothing happened that would keep our trust in the German Swimming Association high,” said Summerer. You came across a cartel of silence, which is why you have now left the discussion level.
According to a statement from Sunday, the DSV is currently not legally able to provide compensation. From the point of view of the association, non-profit sports associations are not allowed to make any compensation payments to individuals. “It affects all of sport. We are therefore already in contact with other institutions such as the BMI, the DOSB or Athletes Germany about what the possibility of appropriate material compensation could look like,” said DSV Vice President Wolfgang Rupieper.
On March 1st, an independent investigation commission commissioned by the DSV began its work. “We face up to our responsibility with all due diligence. I hope that as many of those affected as possible can overcome their shame and take the opportunity to contact the independent commission,” said Rupieper. The more cases were uncovered, the more bases the Commission would have for recommendations for action on how the association could better prevent sexual violence in the future.
The commission is to present a report after one year, but the investigation can be extended. It is planned that essential findings will be published as far as personal rights allow. “Personal consequences cannot be ruled out. All persons who are currently or previously active in the DSV have to face up to this responsibility and undergo the examination,” emphasized Rupieper.