Justice Department Investigates Swim Club's Actions

Asst. Attorney General sent letter to Sen. Specter notifying him of the probe

Another government agency is scrutinizing the actions of the Valley Swim Club, but this time it's happening on the federal level.

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into whether the private, suburban club broke the law in its treatment of 56 black and Hispanic children from the Creative Steps day camp.

U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King wrote to Sen. Arlen Specter that the department is investigating the Valley Club's treatment of the children during their scheduled swim time at the pool.

Creative Steps paid $1,950 to have campers swim at the 10-acre complex on Mondays from June through August, but after two members complained on the first day, the camp's privileges were revoked and money returned.

Several campers said they heard members making racial remarks while they were at The Valley Club -- claims which members denied. But a 33-page affidavit from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission detailed the alleged racially insensitive remarks from the two members and their heated argument with the camp's director.

The department had previously said it would conduct a review to determine whether a full investigation was warranted.

Specter made King's Sept. 4 letter public Thursday when he sent a reply, attaching a news story on a report from the PHRC that found probable cause of racial discrimination.

The state board issued its first report in the investigation late Tuesday, which found there was probable cause -- reason to believe that allegations of discrimination against the campers are credible. The private swim club in Huntington Valley, Pa., "refused and denied" the campers' ability to use the facilities "due to the child's race."

The PHRC cited the race of the Valley Club's membership and marketing efforts as probable cause for the rulings. In the past two years, the club's 150-plus membership was all white, according to committee documents. They also said the club made direct marketing efforts towards white neighborhoods while not targeting other races at all.

Club attorney Joe Tucker has said the finding was not true and blamed it on a "media firestorm." The club has denied that race was the reason why it ended an arrangement for the summer camp's children to use the pool once a week.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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