Swimmer Sues UMBC for Failing to Protect Her After Reporting Abuse

University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) is facing a Title IX lawsuit that alleges the school did nothing to protect one of its female swimmers from an abusive male swimmer.

The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore claims that UMBC “demanded” that the plaintiff “conceal” her sexual, physical, and emotional abuse after she reported it to former head coach Chad Cradock in March of 2018. 

An outside law firm recently found that Cradock engaged in sexual harassment and created a hostile environment during his time as coach, violating the university’s discrimination policy. He resigned in 2020 and died by suicide in 2021. 

“UMBC told [the plaintiff] it ‘didn’t want this to be a mess on the (UMBC swim) team,’” the plaintiff’s attorney, Rignal W. Baldwin V, wrote in the complaint. “For the remainder of her undergraduate career, the plaintiff was forced to see her abuser on campus daily, at swim team activities, in classes, and at her dormitory, until graduation.”

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s romantic relationship with a male member of the UMBC swim team “quickly became violent.” The complaint outlines repeated sexual assaults, stalking, and sending countless text and social media messages, and other harassment that persisted even after the couple’s relationship ended. In one incident, the plaintiff says her ex-boyfriend chased her on the campus, grabbed her, and shook her. 

The plaintiff claims her mental health worsened as a result, causing her to miss mandatory training sessions for UMBC’s swim team. In response, Cradock allegedly threatened to take away her scholarship and said that her situation would “get worse” if she brought her complaints to UMBC’s Title IX office.

Cradock is also accused of forcing the plaintiff into a mediation session with her abuser and neglecting to report the misconduct to the UMBC’s Title IX coordinator as required by university protocol. The plaintiff eventually reported the abuse to UMBC’s Title IX coordinator, but according to the lawsuit, no action was taken. 

Baldwin is reportedly representing five swimmers whose allegations helped trigger a university investigation into Cradock, who inappropriately touched male swimmers and discriminated against female members of the team, according to the 105-page final report.

Cradock, who was 47 at the time of his death, served as head coach of UMBC’s swimming and diving team for 19 seasons. The team won numerous America East Conference titles during his tenure, including four consecutive men’s and four of the last six women’s at the time of his resignation.

“UMBC’s Title IX process prioritizes the school’s reputation over student safety,” Baldwin told The Baltimore Sun last week. “Until that changes, no amount of procedural reform will make a difference.”

UMBC is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for its response to complaints of sexual harassment and its Title IV compliance. The civil rights probe began back in 2020 and remains ongoing as of last month. 

Title IX requires colleges to address sexual assault allegations as they would other forms of gender discrimination. College that mishandle cases risk missing out on federal funding. 

“UMBC remains focused on our ongoing actions to build a community where sexual violence and misconduct are never acceptable,” said UMBC spokesperson Dinah Winnick. She added that it is “not appropriate for the university to comment at this time.”

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4 months ago

The school/athletic Dept. should be on the hook. Having knowledge of the issues at Alabama during Stickels time there and learning of all the complaints that were lodged against the school, only to be swept under the rug, is poor and inexcusable. Honestly, schools like UMBC and especially Bama should be sued for everything there worth. The Bama AD hired that loser with really the only reference being Margo Geer (sounds fishy doesn’t it?). Lots of swimmers left out of fear, and the school did nothing.

4 months ago

Kind of creepy and somewhat foreboding that in a 2014 interview Cradock cited this as a favourite inspirational quote…..

“Watch your thoughts, because they become your words,” “Watch your words, for they become your actions. Watch your actions, for they become your habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, because it becomes your destiny”.

– President Dr. Freeman Harbowski (UMBC President)

I guess they did become his destiny in the end.

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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