Ceci Christy was in the courtroom in Rockville, Maryland as former high-level swim coach Rick Curl was sentenced today.
UPDATE: The judge misstated her initial ruling saying that Curl wasn’t to spend time in jail, and after the court was dismissed the baliff recalled everyone involved to clarify that the case would involve Curl spending 7 years in prison. We have updated the sentence below.
Today in a packed courtroom, Montgomery County District Court Judge Marielsa Bernard sentenced Rick Curl to 15 years of jail time, with all but 7 years suspended. After those 7 years, he will spend two and a half years of supervised probation and two-and-a-half years of unsupervised probation.
As part of the two-and-a-half years of supervised probation, he will have to attend sexual offender rehab, would have to attend alcohol abuse counseling, and that he was to have no unsupervised contact with unrelated girls under the age of 16.
There is going to be another hearing to determine whether or not his crime was violent, and if it’s determined that it was, then Curl would have to serve another three years in prison.
He can request an appeal, but does not have a right to an appeal, as there is in many cases.
There were 72 letters submitted to the court supporting Curl.
A nearly-full courtroom of former Curl swimmers, coaches, and friends were in attendance. When the defense asked for supporters to stand up, the entire courtroom stood except for the plaintiff and members of the media, indicating that a majority of those in attendance supported Curl.
The judge said that it was definite that Curl was grooming Currin, and that the court could not forgive or forget the psychological damage. Addressing Curl directly, the judge said directly to Curl that “he went on to live a full and renowned life, in contrast with Kelley’s life was full of devastation and damage from which she has not recovered, and her Olympic dream disappeared.”
Curl’s attorneys painted this as a low risk of recidivism, though a psychological report said that there was a “degree of sexual deviance” because of the age of Currin and the length of time of the abuse. Curl told the doctor that he takes the blame even though he said that Currin made the first move at the age of 12.
The judge found in her ruling that he would not have ended the relationship if he had not been caught. The defense continually referred to it as a “relationship,” but the judge rebuked them in saying that it was abuse and impossible for them to have a relationship at that age.
In reference to the parents’ decision to sign the non-disclosure agreement, the judge called it a “Hobson’s choice,” which means that it was a no-win scenario, and that they had her sympathy. The judge felt that they had to choose between ending her swimming career and taking the agreement, and that she felt sympathy for them.
This sentence comes after Mr. Curl pled guilty to one count of custodial sexual abuse of Kelley Currin when she was a minor. The maximum sentence allowed under Maryland state law was 25 years.
Among those who spoke on Mr. Curl’s behalf was his wife, who said that this behavior was an “anomally” and not typical of his life or career.
Ms. Currin came forward After 25 years to pursue prosecution of Mr. Curl. At the time of the abuse from 1983 to approximately 1987, Ms. Currin swam for Mr. Curl at the Curl Burke Swim Club. When Ms. Currin’s parents learned of the relationship between their
Daughter and Mr. Curl, Ms. Currin was headed to the university of Texas on a swimming scholarship.
Her parents’ reaction to the abuse, under advice of counsel, was to settle financially with Curl. Mr. and Mrs. Davies chose not to pursue prosecution of Mr. Curl. Instead, they entered into a confidential settlement precluding Ms. Currin and her parents from disclosing or reporting the abuse.