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Published May 23, 2013, 03:54 PM

Virginia swim coach sentenced to 7 years for sex abuse

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A once-prominent swimming coach who trained thousands of children was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing one of the girls he instructed.

By: ERIC TUCKER,Associated Press , Associated Press

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — A once-prominent swimming coach who trained thousands of children was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday for sexually abusing one of the girls he instructed.

Richard J. Curl, who last year was banned for life from the sport by USA Swimming, apologized for abusing the girl over a four-year period in the 1980s. The abuse started when she was 13 and took place in their respective homes, at the private school where he worked and in hotels where they stayed for swim meets. He was charged last year after the allegations of abuse against the woman, Kelley Davies Currin, became public.

Turning to the woman, Curl said, "Every day of my life has been spent thinking and feeling awful about my behavior."

The sentencing caps a precipitous fall for a man who was once one of the nation's most prominent swim coaches, responsible for building up a well-known swim club in the Washington area and training pupils including 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan.

Curl's lawyers pleaded for leniency, saying he admitted to the abuse in a letter to the victim's parents and in a 1987 financial settlement he reached with them. They said he had pleaded guilty, instead of going to trial, and had never committed another act of sexual abuse.

"Mr. Curl didn't deny it, he didn't take it to trial, he hasn't misled anyone in the courtroom," said one of his lawyers, Tom Kelly.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual abuse. But Currin has told her story publicly in interviews and has agreed to allow her name to be used.

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