US Paralympic Swimming Champion Allegedly Sexually Abused Teammate

Lawsuit filed against Robert Griswold, 25
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2022 2:35 AM CST
US Paralympic Swimming Champion Accused of Sexually Abusing Teammate
Robert Griswold celebrates after winning the men's 100-meter backstroke - S8 swimming final at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021.   (Thomas Lovelock for OIS via AP)

Robert Griswold, a 25-year-old US Paralympic champion swimmer, is accused of grooming a younger teammate with intellectual and developmental disabilities starting last year, then sexually abusing him at the Tokyo Games last summer. A lawsuit filed against Griswold, who has cerebral palsy, also accuses him of continuing the abuse at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs after the Games, the Washington Post reports. According to the lawsuit, to which Griswold has not responded publicly, the swimmer befriended Parker Egbert, 19, at the US Paralympic Trials in June of last year, and had become the teen's "de facto chaperone" by the time they both went to the Tokyo Games, where they were roommates and had "prolonged unsupervised" time together.

Egbert, who is autistic, has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, according to the suit, which accuses Griswold of pushing USOPC to invite Egbert to live and train at the Colorado Springs center, where they were again assigned to be roommates. The lawsuit notes that Griswold, who won two gold medals and broke a world record in Tokyo, had previously been hit with misconduct accusations and had even been temporarily suspended in 2020, and says officials should have protected Egbert from him. The suit also says officials dismissed Egbert's parents when they approached them after Egbert first revealed the alleged abuse, and failed to investigate the situation. At least one person is said to have witnessed the abuse, and Griswold is accused of threatening Egbert to keep him from revealing it to anyone.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, a USOPC rep says, "We’ve made the decision to place two staff members on administrative leave and have also stopped the work of several contractors with US Paralympics Swimming." The Colorado Springs Police Department says there is an "open and active" probe related to Griswold, but it won't specify details. SafeSport temporarily suspended Griswold in August due to unspecified "allegations of misconduct," CNN reports. "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," says the complaint of Egbert, who is said to be scared of Griswold to this day. (Read more Paralympics stories.)

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