Paralympic gold medalist swimmer Robert Griswold “maliciously targeted,” groomed and sexually abused a youthful, intellectually disabled teammate, a civil lawsuit filed on Friday in Colorado alleges.
He allegedly abused now-19-year-old Parker Egbert, who has suffered from developmental delay and mental incapacity his whole life making him “significantly more vulnerable to abuse”, in the course of the Tokyo Paralympic Video games and on the US Olympic & Paralympic Coaching Middle (OPTC) positioned in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“This case is a horrific tragedy, where a young man who defied all odds to become a world-class Paralympic swimmer had his life utterly shattered by rape and abuse when he was paired with a team member who was a violent sexual predator,” the lawsuit says.
Immediately due to Griswold’s “vicious acts” and “the repeated failures of USOPC (the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee) and SafeSport to uphold their duties,” the lawsuit says that Egbert has “suffered severe physical injuries, pain and suffering, and extreme mental and emotional distress, most of which is likely to endure for the rest of his life.”
Griswold had not responded to CNN’s request for remark on the time of publication.
When contacted by CNN, Egbert’s legal professionals mentioned they might communicate with their consumer earlier than making a press release.
The lawsuit additionally alleges that the USOPC and SafeSport – an unbiased non-profit group dedicated to ending abuse and harassment towards athletes – didn’t “warn, supervise and/or protect Plaintiff,” both deliberately or negligently failing to uphold their respective duties.
“The allegations brought forth by the complaint filed today are extremely concerning and we take them very seriously,” the USOPC mentioned in a press release to CNN.
“We’ve made the decision to place two staff members on administrative leave and have also stopped the work of several contractors with U.S. Paralympics Swimming. We’re also continuing our investigation of the allegations to help us determine the facts, and we are committed to taking appropriate action.”
SafeSport and USA Swimming haven’t responded to CNN’s request for remark on the time of publication.
Griswold was issued with a brief suspension by the U.S. Middle for SafeSport on August 23 2022 attributable to “allegations of misconduct” and positioned on a database that’s designed for abuse prevention and schooling in sports activities.
The Colorado Springs Police Division had not responded to CNN’s request for remark on the time of publication.
Egbert was born with autism, didn’t communicate till he was six, and “currently has the mental capacity of a five-year old,” the lawsuit says.
Swimming grew to become a type of “playtime, therapy time,” his mom says within the lawsuit, and he discovered success within the pool, competing in three totally different occasions on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Video games held in August and September 2021.
In line with the lawsuit, on the Paralympic trials in June 2021, Griswold “made a concerted effort to ‘befriend’ [Egbert], constantly referring to [Egbert] as his ‘little buddy.’”
In the course of the Video games, Griswold ensured that Egbert was all the time “seated next to him on plane and bus rides and was given prolonged unsupervised access” to him since they shared a room within the Olympic Village, and “the grooming intensified,” the lawsuit states.
“The USOPC observed Griswold engaging in this conduct and allowed it to continue,” the lawsuit provides.
Griswold, who was born with cerebral palsy, gained two gold medals at Tokyo 2020.
One other athlete, who was not recognized within the lawsuit, allegedly witnessed the abuse Egbert suffered from Griswold, in accordance with the lawsuit, and he grew to become so indignant that he punched the wall of the room the place the three athletes have been staying.
In December that 12 months, Egbert gained three gold medals on the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Nationwide Championship and was invited to stay and practice on the OPTC in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Egbert and Griswold grew to become roommates there, permitting the abuse to proceed and intensify, the lawsuit says.
Egbert “refused to take showers which was where Griswold would rape and sexually abuse” him, the lawsuit says, and he started writing tales as a method of escape together with one which he titled ‘Spookley and the Hurricane.’
The story, in accordance with the lawsuit, was a few group of mates who have been “brave” in defeating “a powerful hurricane called Hurricane Robert,” which Egbert known as a “monster.”
After his dad and mom requested Egbert about this story, he revealed Griswold’s abuse to them however once they expressed their issues, “USOPC declined to respond to the issue,” the lawsuit says.
As a result of “acts and omissions” of Griswold, USOPC and SafeSport, the lawsuit says, Egbert has “had to make the difficult decision to leave behind his lifelong dream,” of being a Paralympic swimmer.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that “Griswold used his status in the Olympic and Paralympic Swimming community to carry out a systematic pattern of abuse, whereby he would seek out and groom vulnerable athletes, specifically minor and disabled Paralympic athletes living and training at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center located in Colorado.”
USOPC and SafeSport had data of “credible allegations” of abuse towards Griswold, the lawsuit says, “yet conspired to cover-up such allegations” due to his success as a Paralympic swimmer.