May 16, 2018 09:00 PM
A west metro swim coach has been suspended from USA Swimming due to allegations of misconduct, according to disciplinary records posted Wednesday by SafeSport, a national organization tasked with preventing emotional, physical and sexual abuse of amateur athletes.
Pete Buecher of St. Louis Park is "prohibited from participating in any capacity in any activity or competition" organized by USA Swimming until an investigation is complete, according to the organization.
Buecher was the head coach of the Metro Marlins Swim Team in Orono, which is affiliated with USA Swimming.
Buecher, who was previously found to have acted inappropriately with swimmers nearly 20 years ago, was also a longtime coach at Orono High School.
He resigned this spring while being investigated by the Orono School District.
The district put Buecher on paid leave in February when it hired a law firm to investigate unspecified allegations.
A district spokesperson has repeatedly stated he cannot provide details of that investigation because Buecher quit before it was completed.
When the school board accepted Buecher's resignation in March, board president Bob Tunheim said:
"We don't start an investigation without credible allegations."
Buecher declined to comment to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS when first put on leave, and he has not responded to multiple phone calls and emails since his resignation.
But in a two-page letter sent to parents last month, he described the allegations made against him as "petty things" that included "swearing" and "making crude comments to an assistant coach."
In the letter, which was shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and verified through multiple sources, Buecher wrote the accusations were "false or taken out of context."
He added he was criticized for giving swimmers a hug for a good job or as consolation, telling girls to make sure their swimsuit covered them appropriately as required by the rules and flicking a swimmer with a towel.
Numerous parents, former athletes and current swimmers have voiced support for Buecher and asked the board to bring him back as coach.
In February 2000, Buecher was fired from a coaching and teaching job in Roseville after school investigators substantiated allegations of inappropriate physical touch, comments of a sexual nature, use of language and written communications with swimmers, according to district records obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS through a public data request.
He was hired in Orono six months later.
In his recent letter to parents, Buecher stated "The Orono School District knew about my termination from Roseville....They still hired me."
A district spokesperson denied his claim, saying the termination did not come up in background and reference checks conducted at the time.
Eric Chaloux and Joe Augustine
Updated: May 16, 2018 09:00 PM
Created: May 16, 2018 04:41 PM
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