Lawsuit Filed Against Robert Griswold, Accused of Raping Paralympic Teammate

A lawsuit filed Friday in Colorado district court alleges that U.S. Paralympic swimmer Robert Griswold “maliciously” groomed and abused a teammate with an intellectual disability, as previously reported by SwimSwam last month.

The civil complaint also accuses the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the U.S. Center for SafeSport of taking “extensive efforts to shield and protect Griswold, much to the detriment of Plaintiff and other team members.”

“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 begins.

The complaint claims that Griswold’s sexual assaults started last summer at the Tokyo Paralympics last July and continued through August of this year due to several failures of leadership. The accuser, currently 19 years old with “the mentality capacity of a 5-year old,” was roommates with the now-25-year-old Griswold in Tokyo and at the Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

“In addition to placing Griswold in Plaintiff’s bedroom, USOPC assigned Griswold to be a supervisor of Plaintiff, despite the fact that Griswold was a peer team member on the swim team rather than an adult supervisor and had no training or qualifications to serve as a supervisor,” the lawsuit says. “Remarkably, Defendant USOPC and Defendant U.S. Center for SafeSport (“SafeSport”) allowed Griswold to supervise and share a bedroom with Plaintiff without any oversight, despite the fact that USOPC and SafeSport had received reports that Griswold was sexually assaulting other teammates.”

The lawsuit claims that Griswold told his teammate, who has autism, that he “would get in trouble” and “police would come” if he told anyone what happened. The accuser suffered injuries that required rectal surgery and still require ongoing medical attention, according to the lawsuit. When his parents finally learned of the abuse from a story he wrote about “Hurricane Robert,” the complaint continues, they alerted the USOPC only to be assured that everything was under control.

“Plaintiff’s parents expressed their concerns to the USOPC, but the USOPC failed to investigate the issue and summarily and dismissively told Plaintiff’s parents that Plaintiff was just fine, and that Griswold posed absolutely no risk to Plaintiff,” the lawsuit says. “Concurrently, USOPC and SafeSport failed to inform Plaintiff’s parents of the risks to their son due to his intimate and continuing proximity to Griswold, a known (or at the very least, suspected) sexual predator.”

The lawsuit alleges that “upon information and belief, USOPC and SafeSport’s actions to insulate Griswold and further victimize Plaintiff were due in large part to the fact that Griswold was a premier swimmer, and because Griswold’s family was deeply embedded with leaders throughout the U.S. Paralympic swimming community.”

A lawyer representing Griswold told SwimSwam last month that he “vehemently denies any wrongdoing.”

The 63-page complaint is available to read in full here.

Griswold, who competes in the Paralympic classes S8, SB7 and SM8 and has cerebral palsy, has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

In addition to his Tokyo 2020 golds in the S8 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly, Griswold took bronze at Rio 2016 in the S8 100m backstroke and has won six world titles.

After the lawsuit was filed on Friday, the USOPC released a statement saying that two unspecified staff members have been placed on administrative leave. U.S. Paralympics swimming director Erin Popovich and Nathan Manley, the associate director of high performance, both had automatic emails sent from their accounts Monday stating they were on leave.

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Itistime
2 months ago

Not only should Robert be arrested and Charged! The entire US Paralympic Swim Staff should have charges filed against them. They are complicit in this. Any Adult knows that you do not have an athlete that already had two safe sport incidents filed against them take care of vulnerable people. If I was the parent of this athlete. I would be filing lawsuits against every coach on The Tokyo Team. I would be pushing law efforcement to hold them accountable. They knew better. In addition, they should all lose their USA Swimming Coaching credentials. As well as The CEO of The USOC Needs to be held accountable until they take the steps to clean house. This is a disciable situation… Read more »

Swimmer Who Swims
Reply to  Itistime
2 months ago

2 Safe Sport Incidents! This is the first I’ve read of that. That is gross negligence. Do you know if they were of a similar nature, or something like drug use? Can you also elaborate if classification manipulation.

Molly
Reply to  Swimmer Who Swims
2 months ago

He was being investigated in September of 2020 for sexual misconduct at the Training Center. This is his SECOND time!

Swimmom2
2 months ago

Why hasn’t he been arrested yet?

Admin
Reply to  Swimmom2
2 months ago

Federal investigations generally take longer than local or state criminal investigations. @Riley Overend can confirm, but I believe the FBI is involved in this one (especially because some of the alleged abuse took place in another country).

Dan
Reply to  Swimmom2
2 months ago

It’s coming.
Robert Griswold will be in handcuffs soon.

Paralympian 88-92-96
2 months ago

We fought hard to be treated as equals with our Olympic counterparts and to get the same benefits. The honor to represent our country to the ideals of the paralympic movement somehow has been lost. . And the environment of American para swimming is not living up to the ideals we fought so hard to have. Hopefully, this will shed light on the opportunities Para swimmers need and deserve in a safe environment . We can do better

Para Fan
2 months ago

There is no justice that will magically make the trauma disappear. The OPTC is probably the most toxic training facility for Para swimming, and I’m so grateful that my child wasn’t a favorite of the staff and was denied entry. It was a blessing. It was hell navigating gatekeepers that only showed preference to established gold medalists, but not a younger bronze medalist. The system has destroyed the careers of many high performance swimmers forever. This is just a tragedy that was avoidable, and I hope that US Para Swimming, Safe Sport, and the OPTC have to answer to their reported failures.

Swimmer who swims
Reply to  Para Fan
2 months ago

Would you recommend that athletes avoid the OPTC completely? There are camps there often and I know there is a residential program.

Para Fan
Reply to  Swimmer who swims
2 months ago

I don’t think the residential program is necessarily wholistic. Camps are one thing if they’re supervised, and if teams are headed up together. But the housing is like a college dorm with people of all ages residing there. So it’s not really a collection of people that are similar ages. As much as high performing athletes excel in sports, they lag behind in social aspects. Their sport has been their life, and sadly manipulation is very easy with an “of age” teen that has never dated or gone to parties, etc., because of training and competition.

Dan
2 months ago

Robert has said he wanted to be famous and known.
Careful what you wish for.
Wish I was a fly on the wall at
Griswolds home for Thanksgiving.
Wife, parents and family will be listening to Robert’s LIES from now to the day he’s handcuffed and brought to trial.

Lpman
Reply to  Dan
2 months ago

Ellen and Clark Griswold must be so disappointed. No trips to Wally World for this guy!

MarkB
Reply to  Lpman
2 months ago

Wow! Awesome take on a horrific subject.

justanopinion
Reply to  Dan
2 months ago

Well he got his wish this morning. Just about every major media outlet is picking this story up now. CNN has it as a feature on it’s home page as of 30min ago.
I hope for nothing but justice for these individuals.

Demarrit Steenbergen
Reply to  justanopinion
2 months ago

And our favorite site has been covering it for longer than any other

Steve Nolan
2 months ago

The lawsuit alleges that “upon information and belief, USOPC and SafeSport’s actions to insulate Griswold and further victimize Plaintiff were due in large part to the fact that Griswold was a premier swimmer, and because Griswold’s family was deeply embedded with leaders throughout the U.S. Paralympic swimming community.”

Does anyone seriously believe SafeSport has done anything concrete to actually protect kids? This is just the same old shit.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve Nolan
Jimmy Saffron
2 months ago

Innocent until proven guilty.

Dan
Reply to  Jimmy Saffron
2 months ago

Jim you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
There is a presumption of innocence in a criminal case.
The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by defendant.
And, if there is not enough proof, the defendant is not convicted of of the crime.
BUT! THAT DOES NOT MEAN THE DEFENDANT DID NOT COMMIT THE CRIME. IT JUST MEANS THEY GOT AWAY WITH IT.
Ok? Get it?
Read a book.

Dan
Reply to  Jimmy Saffron
2 months ago

You are 100 percent incorrect.
There is a presumption of innocence.
It DOES NOT MEAN ROBERT GRISWOLD IS NOT A PREDATORY MONSTER.

Demarrit Steenbergen
Reply to  Jimmy Saffron
2 months ago

This is civil suit not criminal so you don’t find anyone innocent or guilty. The word you seek to defend this bad man with is not liable.

Dawg Talk
Reply to  Jimmy Saffron
2 months ago

Just curious…why’d you change your screen name from the last set of stories?

Justice and Prayers
2 months ago

This is absolutely horrific. I can’t even begin to comprehend this. My heart goes out to the survivors and athletes who were subjected to this. My teammates deserve better. And thank you SwimSwam for keeping this out there. No more silence. Staff have been placed on leave, that’s a start.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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