Home » Legal dispute with German Swimming Association – Labor Court postpones Buschkow decision again

Legal dispute with German Swimming Association – Labor Court postpones Buschkow decision again

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Legal dispute with German Swimming Association – Labor Court postpones Buschkow decision again

As of: February 21, 2024 3:31 p.m

After his dismissal without notice, former top official Lutz Buschkow and the German Swimming Association (DSV) will meet again in court on April 3rd. However, an out-of-court settlement is not off the table.

The legal dispute is now entering the next round. On the second day of the hearing at the Halle (Saale) labor court, the presiding judge Gabriele Firzlaff did not make a judgment, but suggested that both parties should continue to strive for a settlement.

If an out-of-court settlement is not reached, the proceedings will continue on April 3rd. The judge then wants to examine the situation again and announce a date – for a verdict or to schedule further trial days, possibly with witness statements.

Vice President Wolfgang Rupieper emphasized on Wednesday that the DSV was ready for further settlement negotiations. “We want to draw a line in the sand, but the other side’s demands are too high. They have to move,” said Rupieper. Buschkov did not comment.

ARD documentary shown in the courtroom

The extraordinary termination without notice of the long-time national water jump coach and sports director took place in October 2022 following the ARD documentary “Abused – Sexualized Violence in German Swimming,” which was shown in the courtroom on Wednesday. In it, the former diver Jan Hempel made public allegations of abuse against his coach Werner Langer, who died in 2001, for the first time. According to Hempel’s descriptions, Buschkow knew about these allegations as early as 1997, but did nothing. A contemporary witness confirmed Hempel’s version in the documentary, and after the broadcast, two former DSV officials spoke out and incriminated Buschkow.

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Since the beginning of the 1990s, Buschkow had been active as a national coach for young talent and screening at the DSV federal base in Berlin and in a leading role in the works council of the swimming association. The DSV initially suspended Buschkow after the publication of the documentary; the termination was preceded by a survey of more than 50 people within the association. As he described it at the first hearing last May, the association came to the conclusion that Buschkow must have known about Hempel’s allegations.

Hempel himself is also a potential witness in the trial. DSV deputy Rupieper emphasized on Wednesday that they wanted to “absolutely spare” him from having to testify in court.

Buschkow denies knowing about Hempel’s abuse

A few days after the ARD documentary appeared, Buschkow told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” that he first found out about Hempel’s allegations against his former coach Langer through a press inquiry from ARD. Buschkow did not answer this press query at the time.

On the first day of the trial in May 2023, Buschkow said that the DSV had “let him jump over the edge in an emergency situation”. With the unfair dismissal lawsuit he tried to take action against the “loss of image” and to obtain compensation. At that time, the DSV presented two meetings from 1997 and 2002 as evidence that Buschkow knew about Hempel’s allegations of abuse. According to the DSV, this was discussed in his presence at the time.

DSV under financial pressure

The DSV had agreed on a payment of 600,000 euros with Hempel, the victim of abuse. The former sports director Thomas Kurschilgen received a similar amount from the DSV after a settlement in a labor law case. A further payment to a former official would worsen the association’s financially strained situation.

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The DSV had recently expressed interest in applying for a swimming world championship. However, Vice President Kai Morgenroth emphasized on Deutschlandfunk that the DSV could not contribute “a single euro” to such a major event – and pointed out the need for government funding.

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