USA Swimming

I represent several young Plaintiffs who are victims of sexual abuse by their USA Swimming coaches. With a team of skilled attorneys, we have filed lawsuits around the country to expose and improve the corrupt USA Swimming sexual molestation policies and compensate the innocent victims.

Deep Deceptions (2010) by Justine McCarthy details the sexual abuse scandal in Irish competitive swimming that was exposed in the early 1990’s. The story of sex abuse and molestation in Ireland’s swimming association is eerily similar to the current situation in USA Swimming. In the Emerald Isle, multiple coaches molested hundreds of young swimmers from at least the late 1960’s on.

The authoritarian culture of swimming in Ireland made it extremely taboo for athletes to question coaches. The national governing body, Swim Ireland, intentionally swept the problem under the rug and stifled the investigation of the few complaints that were made. Swimmers in Ireland believed that Mr. Gibney (who could barely swim himself) and his fellow coaches/molesters held the keys to their Olympic dreams. Parents did not even believe their own children when they alleged abuse; the parent boards that governed, sanctioned and endorsed swim clubs almost without exception backed the coach whenever he was accused.

Much like Ken Stopkotte and Mike Saltzstein in the US, the Irish swimming federation did move to discredit and harass the brave whistle blowers.
Gary O’Toole, an Irish Olympian, finally came forward and revealed that George Gibney, the Irish Olympic coach, had not only attempted to molest him as a young swimmer, but also had molested dozens of young swimmers prior to him. Chalkie White, another former Irish international swimmer,(who also swam at Villanova University) came forward and publicly accused Mr. Gibney. Mr. O’Toole, now an orthopedic surgeon, was cast out by Irish swimming. During the Barcelona Olympics, Mr. Gibney criticized Mr. O’Toole on Irish public television and Mr. White was fired from his coaching position.

Any criminal who operates for decades without detection will be emboldened to press his luck. In Irish swimming it was an open secret that coaches such as Mr. Gibney sexually molested countless young swimmers. Just like in the US, where molester coaches are still coaching, Mr. Gibney and others continued to coach for decades, despite numerous allegations of sexual abuse. The arrogance with which molester coaches openly operated in Ireland mirrors the current culture in the United States where numerous coaches, well known in the swimming community for molesting young athletes, continue to coach.

The culture of competitive swimming needs to change. Presently in the US and across the world, swimmers of all levels are taught never to question their coaches. Parents and swimmers alike are drawn into an authoritarian system of insanely early morning practices and 5 day long swim meets. Parents, swimmers, coaches, and officials need to take a step back and decide what the proper place of sports is in a young person’s life. Swimming is a sport that should teach young athletes confidence, responsibility, and independence. Competitive sports should teach our youth that there is a direct correlation between their preparation and hard work, and their end results. You cannot fake the level of fitness and skill necessary to achieve top performances in the pool. Swimmers need to wake up and realize that they alone own their performances. No particular coach has the exclusive ability to maximize your potential. Swimmers: Question authority, it is for your own safety.
If you or a loved one has been molested by a coach in any sport, please contact local law enforcement, and please feel free to give me a call or send me an email.

Student Loans

In August of 2005, I was starting my second year of law school. I took out $14,000 in student loans from Citibank. This was the only private loan I obtained in law school. The repayment term is 20 years at 7.25% interest.

After graduating in May 2007, I began making monthly payments in November 2007. To date I have made over $7,000 in payments, which is half of my original loan amount. Today, my loan balance is $15,200!

How is this possible? First, the interest on student loans is capitalized. Meaning while you are in school the interest accrued is added onto the principal. When your repayment period starts, 6 months after graduation in my case, your principal amount is the amount you borrowed AND the interest that accrued while you were in school. Under the terms described above, this amounted to approximately another $2,000 to be added onto the principal. While entirely unfair, I understand the concept of capitalization.

However, when I began repaying in November 2007, my principal balance was not the $14,000 I borrowed, or $16,000 reflecting the capitalized interest. Instead, it was over $17,000. Not only did Citibank capitalize the interest, they capitalized the fees as well! And oh what fees – over $600 in distribution fees! Citibank charged over 4% to transfer the money into my bank account. This fee was of course capitalized at 7.25%, with the interest meter running while I was attending school.

I entered into a contract with Citibank to borrow that money for school several years ago, and now I am faced with owing more than the original loan amount, with interest still accruing. Student loans are one of the few debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Students, be careful with the terms of your loans, and only borrow money from a private bank if you absolutely have to!

Home Mortgages and Accounting Blunders

Over the past few years, Mortgage Servicers have leap frogged their way up the ladder of corporate irresponsibility. Homeowners around the country are paying the price of accounting mishaps by their Mortgage companies. Accounting mishaps are not frequent but prevalent in the mortgage industry. Hundreds and thousands of people around the country are facing foreclosures despite having never missed a mortgage payment in their entire life. Despite these blunders Servicers have turned a deaf ear to homeowner complaints and remained indifferent towards their victims. The following are some common accounting errors we have come across:

1) Accounting errors stemming from escrow accounts held by Mortgage Servicers. Many Mortgage Servicers have mysteriously managed to misapply funds coming in or going out of escrow accounts. Consequently, homeowners are left facing a default they never caused, and pay late fees and other expenses which they don’t owe.

2) Frequently, Loan Servicer will fail to provide coupons for monthly payments following the purchase of a home. Subsequently, homeowners miss their first monthly payments due to no fault of their own. Within a few months, homeowners are pushed into default and forced to pay late fees and other expenses they don’t rightfully owe.

3) Mortgage Servicers are especially inept when dealing with Homeowners who have filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to save their house after falling behind. As per the Bankruptcy Code, homeowners are allowed to catch up on the mortgage arrears over the course of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan (usually between 3 to 5 years). During this period of time the homeowners make monthly mortgage payments as well as monthly arrearage payments. In many instances we have found Mortgage Servicers inappropriately charging late fees during the length of the Bankruptcy Plan. Furthermore, many servicers fail to properly account for the bankruptcy filing; hence the debtor is forced into a default despite staying current with all payments within and outside the bankruptcy plan.

4) Accounting errors are almost a norm in cases where the debtor has fallen behind at some point of time and later tried to catch up. In many of these instances, payments are misapplied into a suspense account. Meanwhile, late fees accrue on the miscalculated arrearage.

Most of these errors are a direct result of flawed automated systems implemented by Mortgage Servicers. However, the bigger cause is the unwillingness of the industry to regulate itself. Servicers are not the owners of the loan, but merely contractors providing a service. Loan servicers make colossal profits from fees charged to mortgage accounts. Consumer Protection attorneys are few and scattered, so servicers rarely face stiff opposition or pay for their legal indiscretions. Hence, there is little incentive for servicers to rectify their accounting systems. The real owners of the debt are extremely hard to find since many debts are sold three or four times and eventually end up in a trust. The trust can hold thousands of mortgages at one time leaving little motivation for either the beneficiary or the trustee to hold the servicer accountable for individual mortgages. END RESULT – one more foreclosure, one more victim, more profits for the Servicer and a gaping regulatory void.

Philanthropy

Saeed & Little is proud to be affiliated with several charitable organizations. We strongly believe in social justice, corporate responsibility, and improving our community, country, and world. The charitable efforts of Saeed & Little are focused on young people, improving their future with better public education and athletic programs. It is our belief that education is the ladder out of poverty – the great equalizer in minimizing the increasing social stratification and economic inequality both within our country and abroad.

We give to Seeds of Learning, an organization that builds schools for children in impoverished areas of Pakistan. Attorney Syed Ali Saeed volunteers on the Board of Directors for Seeds of Learning and Campaign for Compassion in Communities, a not-for-profit organization building food pantries and a free medical clinic.

Attorney Jonathan Little recently participated in public support rallies for workers’ rights and public education. He is on the Board of Directors for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, which gave over $130,000 to Indianapolis Public Schools this year. There is a box in our office filled with donated athletic shoes which will be shipped and distributed to young athletes in Kenya.

Little has also partnered with Herron Cross Country, a great fit for Little, who had a successfuly running career, qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon in 2008.

Saeed & Little will continue to donate and develop charitable endeavors that help public education and fitness in Indianapolis and around the world.

Stripper Shoe Case

Recently a lawsuit filed Saeed & Little, LLP against a local gentlemen’s club was picked up by local media and the Associated Press. The circumstances of the case are attention-grabbing, but also far too common. Below are a few links to recent cases exposing rampant negligence in the strip club industry.

Man Sues Strip Club After ‘Stripper Shoe’ Injuryhttp://www.asylum.com/2009/01/23/man-sues-strip-club-after-stripper-shoe-injury/

Are Strip Clubs Safe from Flying Footware? http://www.onpointnews.com/NEWS/are-strip-clubs-safe-from-flying-footwear.html

Nightclub Patron Wins Award for Kick in the Face from Stripper’s Shoe http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/10/nightclub-patron-wins-650k-award-for-kick-in-the-face-from-strippers-shoe/1

Even strip clubs have a responsibility to ensure safety of their customers and comply with the laws. There have been numerous incidents in strip clubs across the country in which flying shoes from routine dance maneuvers have caused injury to innocent patrons. The adult entertainment industry is aware that heavy, ill secured shoes combined with high kick and spinning routines can lead to unintended injuries. This is not the first time it has happened and strip clubs should take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of its customers. The attorneys of Saeed and Little, LLP strive to hold all businesses accountable to responsible, honest, and safe business practices.