Swimming Australia before Royal commission over Volkers

SWIMMING Australia has come under the spotlight after it was revealed Scott Volkers was allowed to continue to work with young women despite being aware of a host of serious sexual abuse allegations being levelled at Queensland's top coach.

Volkers, who trained swimming legends Samantha Riley and Susie O'Neill, was arrested and charged in March, 2002, with five counts of indecent treatment of a girl under 16 in relation to two complainants.

Those charges were later dropped.

The latest round of hearings at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will investigate how Swimming Australia and its affiliates dealt with sex abuse claims between the 1960s and 1980s.

Counsel assisting Gail Furness said on Monday the commission would be examining why Volkers had his sexual assault charges dropped, but it would not look at whether he was guilty or whether the reason to drop charges was correct.

"In March, 2002, following a police investigation that began in August, 2001, Volkers was arrested and charged with five counts of indecent treatment of a girl under sixteen in relation to two complainants," she said.

"His arrest received extensive media coverage.

"In June, 2002, Volkers was charged with four additional counts of indecent treatment of a girl under sixteen in relation to a third complainant."

Ms Furness said three of those women would give evidence at the commission.

"They will each say that they were sexually abused by Volkers," she said.

"It is important to emphasise that the purpose of this public hearing is not to determine the truth of those allegations.

"The Royal Commission will not be making any findings about whether or not the alleged abuse occurred."

Ms Furness said the commission would investigate the circumstances which led to the charges against Volkers being sensationally dropped.

"On September 18, 2002, the then director of public prosecutions, Leanne Clare, discontinued the prosecution against Volkers," she said.

"The decision to drop the charges generated considerable public interest.

"In a television interview on September 24, 2002, the then premier Peter Beattie expressed the view that the matter should be looked at by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission."

Ms Furness said three days later the CMC announced that it would examine the circumstances surrounding Volkers's arrest and the subsequent discontinuance of proceedings.

The hearing is expected to last two weeks.



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