Six Former UMBC Swimmers File Lawsuit Alleging School Covered Up Sexual Abuse

The University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) is facing new legal action stemming from the tenure of former head coach Chad Cradock, as six former members of the swim team filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

The six swimmers allege that the university ignored and covered up sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination by Cradock, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Cradock died by suicide in March 2021 after resigning as UMBC’s head coach in December 2020.

An investigation from an outside law firm in July 2021 found that Cradock engaged in sexual harassment and created a hostile environment during his time as coach, violating the university’s discrimination policy. The investigation says his misconduct included inappropriately touching male swimmers, ignoring female swimmers and mishandling Title IX complaints.

This is at least the second lawsuit UMBC has faced in regard to Cradock’s misconduct as head coach, with a former female swimmer having filed a lawsuit in September 2022 alleging the university failed to help her report sexual assault and harassment from Cradock. The case was dismissed in early May after it was ruled that the three-year statute of limitations had expired.

The new lawsuit includes six swimmers, three men and three women, who were members of the UMBC swim team between 2017 and 2022. The woman in the previous lawsuit had joined the team in 2017.

“UMBC was more than just complicit in Cradock’s misdeeds, in that its leadership ignored, covered up [and] minimized his misconduct,” the lawsuit filed Wednesday says, according to The Baltimore Sun.

“UMBC knew that Cradock was a danger to its student-athletes but did nothing to stop it.”

The lawsuit also alleges that UMBC attorneys in the school’s Title IX office “knew of Cradock’s conduct since at least 2019, and failed to take any action,” and that the university granted Cradock “almost unlimited power over students’ lives” with the control he had over scholarship distribution and team membership.

The lawsuit says UMBC began investigating Cradock and ordered him not to contact the plaintiffs around November 2020. However, after Cradock violated the order, the school failed to enforce it and exposed the six plaintiffs to “continued abuse, harassment, discrimination and retaliation.”

The three male plaintiffs were repeatedly groped and sexually harassed by Cradock, according to the lawsuit.

“Cradock was so bold as to demand to see male swimmers’ genitals in the locker room,” the lawsuit says.

The former coach allegedly groped one male swimmer after faking a shoulder injury, asking the student to check on it, and another one of the male plaintiffs was groped on pool deck.

The lawsuit also says there was an unspoken “quid pro quo” on the team, The Baltimore Sun reports, where swimmers were rewarded for ignoring Cradock’s behavior and punished if they did not.

“This forced swimmers to make a choice: complain and be punished or tolerate the behavior and receive meaningful coaching and assistance,” the lawsuit says.

The female swimmers suing the school argue that they were exposed to a hostile environment where they witnessed the sexual harassment of male swimmers.

The lawsuit says the school interfered with the Title IX process, discouraging swimmers from making reports.

A former athletic trainer on the team said UMBC refused to coach swimmers who “broke the code of silence” and encouraged other swimmers to ignore or “think negatively” about them, according to the lawsuit. The suit also says the university used threats to forbid interaction between students on the swim team and the university’s Title IX office.

The six plaintiffs are being represented by Reginal Baldwin V of the Baltimore-based firm Baldwin Seraina and Jeffrey P. Bowman and Lucas Van Deusen of the Annapolis-based firm Bowman Jarashow Law LLC.

Baldwin was notably the attorney for the previous case filed by the female swimmer, and filed a motion to reconsider that case last month, according to The Baltimore Sun.

UMBC is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for its response to complaints of sexual harassment and its Title IX compliance. The civil rights probe began in 2020, and remains ongoing according to a UMBC spokesperson.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

They seemed like a good program under Craddock when on an official visit. Didn’t hear a word of this. Glad I went somewhere else!

Retired Swammer
3 months ago

I have only seen awful thing about this school and program on SwimSwam. Sexual assult cover ups, Coach committing suicide, and swimmers complaining. This school really needs to take a look in the mirror and change some things quickly!

Reply to  Retired Swammer
3 months ago

Not to be crud, but the coach who was the issue is gone

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »