Rick Curl Sentenced in Maryland; Will Spend 7 Years in Prison

by Ceci Christy 57

May 23rd, 2013 National, News

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.

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“Curl told the doctor that he takes the blame even though he said that Currin made the first move at the age of 12.” WTH??!?!?! So, to a psychologist, he painted himself, partly, as a victim of a calculating Lolita? The later description of deviance is correct, and maybe narcissism is, also. Way to mentor and gain the trust of someone, jerk. According to Rick, she made the first move, so it was therefore okay for him to make the rest of the moves, repeatedly, over the years. Too bad it’s coming too late for Ms. Davies-Currin, but the a summary of the law is: sexual contact with a minor is a felony, no exceptions or excuses. Heartfelt sympathy from… Read more »

Kirk Nelson

Agreed. What a bizarre thing for him to say.


Shows a lack of remorse or real ownership of what he did. He deserves every one of those 7 years.

Fight On

That must have been really difficult for Currin to be in a court room full of Curl supporters. No matter how people feel about the non-disclosure agreement, in the end, that document was probably the nail in the coffin for Curl.

Justice for Currin – Amen!


i dont understand the support for curl. exactly why are they supporting him? do they want their children to get with him too? he might be a good coach but still rather disturbing to hear he has so many supporters.

Agreed. It would be very interesting to see the names of those 72 folks who wrote letters in support.


Are those letters a matter-of-public-record in Maryland, part of the court’s open record of the trial, so they could be requested (or maybe FOIA’d) by an interested party? Because, yeah, it would be interesting to see who they were and what they said.

Manny – if they become public record, I assure you that Ceci Christy will find them. She has a lot of tools available to track down these sorts of things, so if they become publicly available, we’ll find them.

Just spoke with Ceci. Excerpts from some letters were read in court, but there is absolutely no (legal) way to obtain the full letters or the identities of the writers. She characterized the excerpts read as all very similar: this was not the Curl they knew, but they were almost all from people who knew him after the abuse of Currin.


Why does everyone want to see the names of the supporters? They know Rick in a different way than the general public; they see this as a terrible mistake that he made a very long time ago and have relationships with him on a completely opposite level than those who don’t know him, just as his wife does. It would be interesting to see what the supporters wrote in the letters, but I don’t think the names of any of them need to be released just so they can be chastised by people that simply have different opinions of the man. And before anyone jumps all over me, I was not one of the people that wrote a letter. I… Read more »


The people that wrote thise letters did so to attempt to minmize the punishment for Rick Curl. They have every right to support the man, but they should be ashamed of themselves for not wanting the man to pay the full price for what he did. The fact that it happened a long time ago means NOTHING.

As a parent of a daughter, I want to know if any of the supporters are current swim coaches or USA Swimming/ASCA leaders. I would think all parent of swimmers would want to know whether their coach or sport leaders were requesting a lesser sentence for a child molester.


In all honesty, that’s somewhat of a bold statement to make. Just because those people (coaches or not) went to that courthouse today and showed support for a man that they see differently than most, doesn’t make them a bad person or anything like Rick. It also doesn’t mean that those particular coaches would ever do anything to hurt a child. They are simply showing support for Rick throughout the years that they’ve known him, which, apparently, is MUCH different from the man he was 25 years ago. And just because they wrote a letter doesn’t mean they wanted to lessen his sentence; it could be that they were there to simply express to him and others what Rick meant… Read more »


“Nobody should ever be ashamed of what they believe in” … what a load of new age mumbo jumbo. Of course they should.


New age mumbo jumbo?!?! Are you kidding me? Alright then, let’s just say that EVERYTHING you believe in should be condemned by complete strangers. You see the problem there? It’s also important to note that one statement is the only one that you even noticed in everything that was said. You threw good, honest and hard working coaches and past swimmers into the same category as pedophiles simply because they are supporting the man they know NOW. It is completely unjustified and irresponsible to do that. People have different opinions on the man that existed 25 years ago and the man that they know today. ALL of those people have the right to have those opinions, whether you like it… Read more »


Coach, for some reason you keep trying to e define and misattribute what I have actually written. Lets get a few things clear. 1. I chose that one sentence to focus on because it was the most foolish of all the sentences you wrote. 2. I did not throw anyone into the category of pedophiles, you did. I never used the word. Let me be clear, Rick Curl is a rapist. He repeatedly raped Kelly. Those that support him now by attempting to have his sentence reduced are apologists for a rapist. 3. My ACTUAL issue was the 72 people who chose to write letters in to the court regarding the sentencing phase of the trial to minimize the sentence… Read more »


Coach: There are no qualifiers in this, regardless if they new before, during or after the incident. The man had sex with a minor, that changes everything. If he truly had remorse, he would have turned himself in all those years ago and gone into treatment, not buy them out.


I think a lot of you fail to put yourself in the shoes of others. Some of you are so quick to judge others (as if you have never made any kind of mistakes your entire life, whether big or small) and forget that at any point in your life, you could have a loved one facing something that the general public feels is wrong. What you do then? Support the person that has impacted your life in a major way or walk out on them because that’s what society tells you to do? I would LOVE to hear how some of you that are so hard on his supporters would handle that situation. I ALWAYS try to imagine myself… Read more »


Coach, Unlike you, I will not misquote you. You said: “For you to question that any of those people would possibly turn a blind eye to any type of child abuse if they came across it is completely ignorant.” That very statement turns a blind eye to the history of the Kelly Davies Casey and all of the other cases of abuse at the hand of a coach that even big name coaches and sport leaders have ignored. How many coaches and swimmers knew what happened to Kelly? How many knew about Mitch Ivey? The answer is way, way too many… And they did NOTHING. That is why I want to know who wrote the court in an attempt to… Read more »

Kirk Nelson

“at any point in your life, you could have a loved one facing something that the general public feels is wrong. What you do then? Support the person that has impacted your life in a major way or walk out on them because that’s what society tells you to do?”

Obviously it depends on the situation, but if I found out my wife had been having sex with a high school kid for years I am utterly confident that I would NOT support her.

About Ceci Christy

Ceci Christy is the mother of two teenage daughters and has held the proud title of swim mom for nine years. She volunteers extensively at her daughters' swim club in Atlanta. While being a mother is her most rewarding job, Ceci also serves as a pro bono child advocate in …

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