Penn State places head fencing coach Wes Glon on paid leave after allegations surface
A former Penn State fencer filed a federal lawsuit against Penn State and head coach Wes Glon, alleging abuse, but it's not clear if it was that complaint or another that prompted this month's action.
Pennsylvania State University has placed Wes Glon, its longtime head fencing coach, on paid leave after learning that USA Fencing — the sport’s amateur governing body — had taken certain measures to protect its athletes after allegations were raised.
Neither Penn State nor USA Fencing would describe the measures taken or the nature of the allegations.
“Prompted by a report from a member of our community, USA Fencing informed Mr. Glon that it was imposing measures designed to protect our athletes,” USA Fencing said in a statement to the Inquirer. “Because this investigation is ongoing, we can’t share additional details at this time.”
The allegations, if upheld, USA Fencing said, “would be violations of the SafeSport Code.”
Glon, the organization said, resigned Saturday as president of the Central Division of USA Fencing, at USA Fencing’s request. The investigation, the statement said, is being conducted by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the nonprofit that monitors abuse in Olympic sports.
A man who said he was Glon hung up on a reporter who called seeking comment. A voicemail left with Glon’s lawyer, Jeffrey A. Lutsky, was not immediately returned.
It’s the second time that Glon has been out of his Penn State coaching job after allegations surfaced. He was placed on interim suspension over a year ago after SafeSport suspended him for three years following a complaint by a North Carolina coach that he suppressed her sexual-misconduct complaint against one of his assistants.
But Penn State reinstated him to the position in November after an arbitrator overturned the three-year suspension and instead imposed a six-month term of probation.
In April, another complaint was lodged against Glon in a federal lawsuit by a former Penn State fencer who alleged Glon abused her with gibes about her weight and fencing talent and even dismissed her fear that she had suffered a concussion. It is unclear whether the investigation and actions by USA Fencing this month were prompted by either of the two complaints.
Zara Moss, 22, once an Olympic hopeful from Pittsburgh, said Glon, a coach at Penn State since 1985, injured her by forcing her to spar against him without protective equipment when she was a freshman and repeatedly disparaged her as too heavy, telling her she was “better when she was skinny,” according to the suit that was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Chelsea Weaver, the lawyer representing Moss, called the actions concerning Glon “encouraging, but it’s not enough.”
Abuse in fencing is still happening despite vows to stop it, she said, and parts of its culture “have allowed abuse to fester.”
“No one pursuing educational or athletic excellence should ever experience abuse for any reason,” she said.
Moss had told The Inquirer in April that she had filed a complaint with SafeSport.
Jennifer Oldham, the North Carolina fencing coach whose case sparked the first SafeSport review of Glon, also had filed a lawsuit against Penn State, but it was dismissed in May by a U.S. District Court judge. Oldham and her lawyer are appealing that decision.
“Glon’s behavior will continue until Penn State realizes the financial and reputational costs of keeping him far outweigh the benefits of mollycoddling a coach,” said Oldham’s lawyer, Kerstin Walker Sutton.
Oldham, head coach of the Mid-South Fencers’ Club in Durham, N.C., alleged that Glon had failed to act on her complaint that one of his assistants, George “Gia” Abashidze, grabbed and sexually harassed her on a plane when she was returning in 2017 from a competition with a group of fencing coaches. Penn State ultimately fired Abashidze but left Glon in place.
Penn State said Monday that Glon would remain on leave pending further information and that Adam Kaszubowski would serve as interim head coach.