COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Paralympic swimmer Parker Egbert was repeatedly assaulted and raped by teammate Robert Griswold for over a 12 months, and the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee was complicit and negligent in permitting it to occur, in keeping with a lawsuit filed late final week within the U.S. District Courtroom of Colorado.
Egbert, 19, a Paralympic swimmer who was born with autism and has developmental delay and mental incapacity, competed for america within the 2020 Paralympic Video games in Tokyo.
The lawsuit alleges Egbert was “being violently and repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by his teammate, Defendant Robert Griswold.” Egbert is represented by Salzano, Ettinger, Lampert & Wilson of New York and San Francisco-based Erickson Kramer Osborne; the legislation corporations are representing Paralympic athletes who allege they had been sexually abused by Griswold, in keeping with the Erickson Kramer Osborne web site.
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Along with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the swimsuit named the U.S. Middle for SafeSport as a defendant. The Denver-based nonprofit, funded by the USOPC, was created in 2017 to guard athletes from sexual assault and abuse, however has confronted criticism over its efforts, in keeping with nationwide information tales.
Griswold, identified with cerebral palsy, was Egbert’s Paralympic teammate and traveled with him to Japan for the 2020 Paralympic Video games, which happened in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit alleges that Griswold acted as Egbert’s “de-facto chaperone” through the competitors, rooming collectively within the Olympic Village. The lawsuit additionally alleges that Griswold was assigned to be Egbert’s supervisor through the competitors, relatively than an authorized grownup supervisor.
“Remarkably, Defendant USOPC and Defendant U.S. Middle for SafeSport allowed Griswold to oversee and share a bed room with Plaintiff with none oversight, even supposing USOPC and SafeSport had acquired stories that Griswold was sexually assaulting different teammates,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that Griswold was added to the SafeSport database in 2020 for “allegations of misconduct,” however had his suspension lifted previous to the Olympics.
“The allegations introduced forth by the grievance filed at this time are extraordinarily regarding and we take them very critically,” stated Jon Mason, a USOPC spokesman. “We’ve made the choice to put two workers members on administrative depart and have additionally stopped the work of a number of contractors with U.S. Paralympics Swimming. We’re additionally persevering with our investigation of the allegations to assist us decide the details, and we’re dedicated to taking applicable motion.”
Griswold competed for the U.S. Paralympic group in 2016 and 2020, successful two gold medals and a bronze medal throughout these competitions.
The lawsuit alleges that Egbert was repeatedly assaulted and raped all through the competitors in 2021, a lot in order that Egbert required surgical procedure for the injury attributable to Griswold. Moreover, Griswold instructed Egbert that he “would get in hassle” and “the police would come” if he ever instructed anybody in regards to the alleged assaults.
Egbert stated throughout the lawsuit that Griswold would inform him “that is what I deserve,” throughout these assaults.
Following the Paralympics in 2021, Egbert instructed his mother and father that he was being assaulted by Griswold, however that the USOPC dismissed the claims once they had been introduced ahead by Egbert’s mother and father.
“Plaintiff’s mother and father expressed their issues to the USOPC, however the USOPC failed to analyze the problem and summarily and dismissively instructed Plaintiff’s mother and father that Plaintiff was simply wonderful, and that Griswold posed completely no threat to Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that the efforts from the USOPC to cover the assaults had been partly as a result of Griswold’s standing as “a premier swimmer” and since his mother and father had been “deeply embedded with leaders all through the U.S. Paralympic swimming group.”
The alleged rape and assault in opposition to Egbert continued by way of August 2022 when Egbert and Griswold had been each residing and coaching on the Olympic and Paralympic Coaching Middle in Colorado Springs, regardless of the USOPC’s assurances that every little thing was wonderful between the 2 swimmers, in keeping with the lawsuit.
“It’s axiomatic that each one people should be shielded from the lifelong bodily, psychological, and psychological trauma inevitably ensuing from abuse. That expectation is exceedingly heightened when these people are within the custody and care of entities equivalent to Defendant USOPC, which incessantly assures athletes (in addition to their mother and father and guardians) that it operates and maintains a secure setting and guarantees to guard athletes in its custody and care,” the lawsuit reads. “Along with USOPC’s express and implicit assurances, USOPC has a Congressionally-created authorized obligation — pursuant to the Defending Younger Victims from Sexual Abuse and Secure Sport Authorization Act of 2017 … to guard athletes from abuse.”
Griswold was quickly suspended from coaching in August 2022 because of the alleged assaults of Egbert.
“Parker Egbert filed a lawsuit at this time in Colorado federal court docket in opposition to Robert Griswold, america Olympic & Paralympic Committee, and U.S. Middle for SafeSport. The motion units forth severe allegations of sexual abuse by Mr. Griswold and asserts that the committees had been accountable and complicit in permitting these heinous acts to happen,” Frank Salzano, of Salzano Ettinger Lampert & Wilson, and Elizabeth Kramer of Erickson Kramer Osborne, stated in a press release supplied to The Gazette. “The details and circumstances are specified by element within the court docket submitting and for that cause the Egbert household is not going to be making any statements relating to the matter presently. As you possibly can think about, this ordeal has been terribly troublesome for the Egbert household, in addition to the opposite victims and households which were impacted, so we ask that their privateness be revered.”
As a part of the lawsuit Egbert and his household are in search of a trial for damages attributable to Griswold’s alleged continued assaults of Egbert, and the USOPC for allegedly overlaying up the conduct of the assailant.
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