Corrections & Clarifications: This article has been updated to clarify Jane Doe’s allegations and the status of a deposition.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Ray Lawrence.
Carmel High School quietly removed Ray Lawrence, a longtime and lauded swimming coach who was banned from USA Swimming in 2011, from its athletics hall of fame.
At the time of the ban a decade ago, USA Swimming gave IndyStar no specifics on the reason but said Lawrence was banned for life for violations that occurred before the current Code of Conduct, which started in the late 1990s.
Lawrence was the swim coach at Carmel from 1979 to 1994.
Currently, the USA Swimming’s online list of banned and permanently ineligible individuals, says he was banned from USA Swimming on March 8, 2011 due to sexual misconduct.
Emily Bauer, Carmel Clay Schools spokesperson, said Lawrence was removed from the hall of fame on May 17, when school officials learned the reason for his ban.
In a statement to IndyStar, Carmel Clay Schools said: “The Carmel High School administration has removed Ray Lawrence (coach from 1979-1994) from the Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2011, USA Swimming had issued a lifetime ban of Mr. Lawrence without further information. The determination to remove him from the Hall of Fame was made immediately after learning he was banned due to an inappropriate relationship with a student athlete.”
In a statement to IndyStar on Friday, Lawrence said he was not contacted about and didn’t know about the decision to remove him from the hall of fame.
“My inclusion in the Hall of Fame and the unilateral decision to remove me do not define me,” Lawrence said in the statement, adding that his family and faith are the most important things in his life.
Lawrence has been listed with the sexual misconduct designation on the USA Swimming list since at least January 2020, per previous reporting from IndyStar.
Belle McLemore, a spokesperson for USA Swimming, said that the organization updated its handbook since 2011 and added the qualifiers to the public list.
McLemore added that when a person is banned, USA Swimming notifies the last known USA Swimming affiliated club or team that person was involved with.
Although he had already stopped coaching, Lawrence left Carmel Clay Schools in 1995. According to court documents, he said that was also around the time he was last formally associated with USA Swimming.
IndyStar asked Bauer if the district knew he was listed with a sexual misconduct as the reason prior to May 17 or if it was the incident specifically that the district found out on May 17. Bauer didn’t directly answer and responded with “Carmel Clay Schools was made aware on May 17, 2021.”
In 2011, when Lawrence was banned, the then-Carmel Clay district spokesperson said school officials were “caught off guard and surprised” by the ban, and they had no knowledge of incidents or problems during Lawrence’s tenure at Carmel.
Lawrence was a longtime Carmel coach
Lawrence was in Carmel’s hall of fame for more than 25 years and the last ten of those years were after he was banned from USA Swimming for sexual misconduct.
Lawrence was added to the Carmel Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994-95, per the now-gone bio on the Carmel hall of fame website.
As swim coach at Carmel, he coached both the boys’ and girls’ teams within that time. The teams he coached won 11 team state championships, six with the girls’ team and five with the boys’ team. The championships with the girls’ team started the current streak of 35 consecutive state championship titles, a national record.
Lawrence is still a member of the Indiana High School Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame, per its website as of Thursday afternoon. Lawrence helped start that hall of fame, per IndyStar article from his induction in 2006.
Also in 1995, he was the National Coach of the Year in boys’ swimming. Lawrence had nine undefeated seasons as the Carmel coach and was Indiana Swim Coach of the Year seven times. His career record for both the boys’ and girls’ teams was 251-38-2.
After leaving Carmel, Lawrence was an assistant principal for seven years and principal for five years at Speedway High School before leaving in 2007. He then became a principal with the Indiana Online Academy for several years.
Lawrence was subpoenaed to testify
Per online court records, Lawrence has not been charged nor convicted of sexual misconduct.
However, court records show that earlier this year, Lawrence was subpoenaed to testify at a deposition as part of a Title IX lawsuit filed in January 2020 by a former Carmel High School swimmer. The swimmer said the district and the swim coach failed to protect her from being raped by John Goelz, who was one of her coaches. The swimmer alleges that the district has a long history of tolerating sexual relationships between employees and underage students.
IndyStar does not identify victims of sexual abuse without their permission.
In January 2019, Goelz pleaded guilty in federal court to sexual exploitation of a minor and sentenced to 200 months, or more than 16 years, in prison.
Per court documents, Lawrence and his lawyer, Sandra Blevins, challenged the subpoena and argued that there was no connection to Lawrence who left the district more than twenty years ago.
In his statement to IndyStar, Lawrence said he fought against being deposed “because I had nothing to do with the lawsuit.”
“As the federal court indicated, any possible testimony by me had no bearing on that case. I refuted the hearsay allegations against me in that case made by Mr. Little,” Lawrence said. “I unequivocally deny the allegations by Mr. Little in the complaint he filed last year against Carmel Clay Schools.”
Jon Little is the lawyer for the former swimmer who filed the lawsuit.
As part of the response to urge a judge to order Lawrence to be deposed, an affidavit was filed on May 5 by a Jane Doe who said that Lawrence “sexually molested me while I was a minor and had sexual intercourse with me while I was a swimmer at Carmel High School” in the 1980s and that she reported it to USA Swimming in 2010.
Little said Lawrence’s removal from the hall of fame was overdue and that he takes “serious issue” with the claim that Carmel didn’t know before Lawrence was banned.
“It’s despicable and appalling,” he said, “that Carmel Schools let a coach that’s been banned by USA swimming for 10 years stay (in the hall of fame).”
According to the court documents, Lawrence said he was unaware that he was listed as banned from USA Swimming due to sexual misconduct and only found out when he received the subpoena for the deposition in January 2021.
On May 14, a magistrate judge ruled that Lawrence would not be deposed in the case.
Little, told IndyStar that lawsuit has “been resolved to the mutual satisfaction all the parties involved.” However, Carmel Clay Schools said it “will not comment on active litigation.”