USOPC Reinstates Para Swimming Leaders Placed on Leave Amid Robert Griswold Scandal

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has reinstated two U.S. Paralympic Swimming leaders who were placed on leave in November pending an investigation into wrongdoing related to abuse allegations against two-time Paralympic gold medalist Robert Griswold.

After attorneys announced they were filing a lawsuit against the USOPC for covering up allegations against Griswold, emails sent to Erin Popovich, the organization’s director, and Nathan Manley, the associate director, received automatic replies saying they were “currently away on leave.” Three months later, they both appear to be back on staff.

“After a thorough and comprehensive review of the information we have at this time, we believe that neither of our employees nor the contractors involved engaged in any wrongdoing included in the allegations,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote to the para swimming community on Tuesday. “Whenever scenarios as complex as these arise, the path forward is equally as difficult. While not related to these allegations specifically, the investigation did uncover a USOPC policy violation by one employee that was placed on leave who has now left the organization.

“We are pleased however to welcome back the others, and we ask for your help by embracing them with both compassion and respect as they transition back to the workplace,” Hirshland added. “We are grateful to these colleagues for their patience and understanding in this difficult process.”

Frank Salzano is among the team of attorneys representing the 19-year-old accuser, Parker Egbert, who roomed with Griswold at the Tokyo Paralympics and then at the USOPC training center in Colorado Springs. Despite Griswold’s previous appearance in the SafeSport database for allegations of misconduct in September of 2020, he served as the “de-facto chaperone” for Egbert, who was born with autism and “has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.”

“Despite Parker Egbert’s credible allegations regarding the USOPC’s negligent supervision resulting in him being sexually abused while under its care, we recently learned of the USOPC’s decision to reinstate employees who were previously placed on leave pending investigation,” Salzano said. “The Egbert family is shocked, and utterly disappointed with this decision. The family intends to continue to zealously pursue all available legal avenues to ensure the responsible parties are brought to justice and will not stop until this is achieved. Once again, this matter has been extremely taxing and beyond difficult for the Egbert family, as well as the other victims and families that have been impacted, so we continue to request that their privacy be respected.”

In the lawsuit, Salzano claimed that both USOPC and SafeSport knew about credible allegations against Griswold but did nothing. Griswold allegedly groomed and abused his teammate for more than a year, raping him so severely that surgery was required.

“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 said. “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. Defendant USOPC’s failures — highlighted by its decision to allow Plaintiff to share a room and shower with Defendant Griswold without supervision, are especially troubling considering the extent of Plaintiff’s disabilities…”

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Sickened an in disbelief over this whole situation
12 days ago

Any sane human should feel nothing but outrage over this entire situation, and anybody who was in a position of power is responsible for failing to protect this young man. Shame on you for acting like they had no culpability here, USOPC

Susan DeMere
1 month ago

This is absolutely beyond belief. The USOPC is culpable and liable for failure to supervise and protect a vulnerable athlete from a known predator. The physical and emotional damage done by Robert Griswold can never be repaired and the entire USOPC should be terminated for their indifference, for shielding the offender and now for reinstating those who allowed this to happen.

Reply to  Susan DeMere
1 month ago

You are clearly filled with bliss. Their investigation was about checking all facts to determine if anyone in the organization failed to report on the matters in question or failed to act on them. Combination of these suits is a litigators tactic to win the most $$ possible in the end. On this measure, they fail.
On the case of athlete on athlete violations, that is a case for the legal system. The parent pleas that their child’s intellect is that of a 5 year old. What stable parent would ship their 5 year old off to live alone? Parents, not institutions, should be raising their children. This money grab attempt needs to end and the parents involved need… Read more »

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Reply to  Cleareyes
1 month ago

That is one of the obvious policy updates the training center needs: athletes with mental disabilities need to room separately from others to protect both athletes. Even if they know each other would you let your child with the same behavior as a 5-year-old room with a twenty-something full-time? Maybe even make it a policy to have a care person with them.

Is the civil lawsuit still ongoing? Has there been an arrest yet?

1 month ago

So, they believe in Robert’s innocence then?

1 month ago

Someone must have done something wrong or this wouldn’t have happened? I guess they think no one is paying attention.

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

So literally no one made an oopsie in this situation, is sort of what they’re saying.

While not related to these allegations specifically, the investigation did uncover a USOPC policy violation by one employee that was placed on leave who has now left the organization.

But there was someone else who did regarding something else, and they’re gone. So we’re all good now.


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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