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Victims recall lifetimes of trauma as former Olympian pleads guilty to molesting boys in 1970s

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A former Olympian and longtime track coach will spend as many as 11 years in state prison after pleading guilty to charges of sexually molesting young boys at a sports camp in western Massachusetts in the 1970s, abuse that was laid bare by the emotional testimony of several victims.

Conrad Mainwaring, who was a hurdler for Antigua and Barbuda in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, faced 12 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child over 14 and four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 in Berkshire Superior Court. The charges involved nine male victims.

“He used his Olympic status to abuse young boys,” District Attorney Timothy Shugrue told the court. “He chose young, attractive, athletic boys, young men because he knew, at least he thought he knew, they would not speak up. This was his opportunity for self-gratification, a fraud at the expense of many, many lives.”

In a pattern that repeated itself over the years, Shugrue detailed case after case in which Mainwaring leveraged his Olympic credentials as part of a grooming technique used on boys attending Camp Greylock, making the youngsters believe that the sexual assault would make them better athletes. The abuse took place in the woods around the camp, in a van and near a tennis court among other places.

After details of the cases were presented, Mainwaring, in a wheelchair and wearing a mask, said “yes” when asked by the judge if he committed the offenses laid out in court. He then said “guilty” after each of the charges was read out.

Mainwaring, a 72-year-old Los Angeles resident and United Kingdom national, will serve his sentences on the multiple charges concurrently. But Judge John Agostini said it was “probably a life sentence” given Mainwaring’s age.

Mainwaring molested campers from 1975 to 1979 while working as a counselor at Camp Greylock in Becket. Authorities have said they believe there are “many other victims” in several states and outside the United States.

Some of the camp victims — who were as young as 13 and as old as 19 — testified at Thursday’s hearing, recalling the shame and the damage the abuse has caused them. Addressing Mainwaring directly, they called him a danger to young men. They demanded a long jail sentence, arguing that he be kept away from boys or young men and barred from coaching.

“It’s beyond diabolical, the pain and suffering of so many. It’s why he must be put behind bars and be prevented from ever harming anyone again,” John Shapiro, an entrepreneur and father of three, who told the court how he was abused at the Massachusetts camp and Syracuse University, “Because given the chance he will. He has shown no signs of remorse or forgiveness. None. Again, given the chance, Mr. Mainwaring will do this again.”

Shapiro also detailed the toll the abuse has taken on his life.

“The trauma from that has caused my life to be full of darkness, sadness and devoid of hope. I’ve suffered so much for so many years,” Shapiro said. “Too painful to describe and too tortuous to put into words, but I’m making an attempt here and now. My life has never been the same since that first fateful time he sexually abused me at Greylock.”

Michael Waxman detailed how he met Mainwaring 40 years ago at the camp when he was 13. Waxman, an attorney from Portland, Maine, told the court that at the time he was “overjoyed” that Mainwaring had picked him and would have followed him to “the ends of the earth” to see the dream of becoming a top athlete.

“What you did to me had nothing to do with my dream,” he said, confronting Mainwaring for the first time in decades. “It was all about satisfying your perverted sexual needs.”

Waxman said the abuse left him ashamed and disgusted “for the first time in my life.”

“You stole part of my childhood, part of my innocence and frivolity,” he said. “Conrad, I really was a good kid. I didn’t deserve to feel shame. I didn’t deserve to feel disgusted with myself. You did and you do. Shame on you.”

As victims read their statements, Mainwaring mostly stared at the ground or twiddled his thumbs. He said nothing directly to the victims.

Massachusetts authorities started investigating Mainwaring following a 2019 ESPN report in which more than 50 men alleged they were abused by him, some of them at Camp Greylock. He was arrested in 2021 on a fugitive warrant as he left a Los Angeles County courthouse after a plea in a separate case from 2019.

Mainwaring also is accused in several lawsuits of abusing dozens of young men when he was a doctoral student, a deputy residency hall director and track and field coach at Syracuse University in the 1980s. A spokesperson for Syracuse declined to comment, saying the school doesn’t “comment on pending/ongoing litigation.”

“Everyone who brought Conrad Mainwaring to justice deserves our thanks, including law enforcement, the district attorney, the journalists at ESPN, and especially the courageous men who shared their stories deserve the most gratitude,” said Saul Wolf, an attorney whose firm represents seven victims and filed lawsuits against Syracuse University in New York, the Syracuse school district and the Massachusetts camp.

“Now that Mainwaring intends to enter a guilty plea and take responsibility, it is time for Syracuse University and Camp Greylock to accept responsibility and be held accountable,” he added.

Article Topic Follows: AP National News

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