Men accusing former Olympian sue Syracuse, others over abuse allegations

At least 52 men have described being sexually abused by Conrad Mainwaring, shown at a California track last March. Two of those men on Tuesday filed civil lawsuits against Syracuse University and other entities that employed Mainwaring through the years. Rachel Bujalski for ESPN

Two men who said they were sexually abused as children by track coach Conrad Mainwaring -- the subject of a yearlong ESPN investigation -- have filed civil lawsuits against Syracuse University and several other entities that employed Mainwaring.

Robert Druger and John Shapiro said they were molested several times by Mainwaring at Syracuse when he worked and attended graduate school there between 1980 and '86, according to the lawsuits.

The men allege in both suits, filed separately in Onondaga County, New York, that before they were molested, Syracuse had received "credible reports of sexual abuse perpetrated by Mainwaring" but didn't act on them. They also say in the lawsuits that the university failed to properly vet Mainwaring at the time he was hired and allowed him to have "unfettered and unsupervised" access to boys and young men in the dorm where he worked as a supervisor.

The lawsuits provide no details to support the claim that Syracuse received prior reports about Mainwaring's alleged abuse. Previously, a university spokesperson told ESPN the school wasn't made aware of any allegations against Mainwaring until last February, at which point law enforcement authorities were notified and the school began a review of Mainwaring's time on campus.

"Based on that exhaustive review, we have been unable to locate or identify any individual who reported the alleged conduct to university officials when it occurred," the school said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Last August, ESPN reported that 41 men described being sexually abused by Mainwaring over a 44-year span that covered two continents, four states and several universities. Since then, that number has grown to at least 52. Of those, 22 told ESPN they were first abused at Syracuse by Mainwaring, who ran in the 1976 Olympics for the tiny island nation of Antigua. Virtually all of the men described meeting Mainwaring through his work as an independent track coach, and they said he sexually abused them under the guise of mental training designed to help them excel in sports and life.

Last year, in the wake of ESPN's investigation, Mainwaring was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with one felony count of sexual battery by fraud. He pleaded not guilty, and his case is winding its way through the courts.

Druger and Shapiro were among the men who previously told their stories to ESPN. In his lawsuit and in interviews, Druger said he was first molested by Mainwaring as a student at Nottingham High School in Syracuse. Mainwaring counseled students in an office at Nottingham while working toward his master's degree in counseling and guidance. Druger had several meetings with Mainwaring at Nottingham, where the coach "began grooming and sexually preying" upon him, according to the lawsuit.

Druger's lawsuit also names the Syracuse City School District and its board of education as defendants. It alleges the district employed or contracted with Mainwaring even though he was not properly certified or licensed to work in a counseling capacity. It also states that before Druger was abused, the district had prior knowledge that Mainwaring had molested other boys at Nottingham; and that despite "red flags," the district continued to allow Mainwaring to work with and abuse underage boys.

Again, the lawsuit provides no details to support the assertion that Nottingham received prior notice about Mainwaring's alleged abuse.

Previously, a school district official told ESPN there were no records indicating that Mainwaring was ever a staff member or a sanctioned volunteer at Nottingham. The district had no comment on the lawsuit. In addition to Druger, two other former Nottingham students recalled that Mainwaring had counseled students at the school, and one of those told ESPN he had been abused by Mainwaring.

Druger went on to attend Syracuse University, where he ran track. He said that the abuse by Mainwaring continued while he was in college, in two different dorms where Mainwaring worked and lived.

Shapiro's lawsuit also names Camp Greylock, Inc., a summer camp for boys in Becket, Massachusetts. Mainwaring worked there as a counselor for several years in the 1970s. In the lawsuit and in interviews with ESPN, Shapiro said he was 14 when he was first molested by Mainwaring, in the summer of 1979. Shapiro is one of nine men who told ESPN they were sexually abused by Mainwaring at Greylock.

The men who ran the camp when Mainwaring worked there are dead. Last year, a lawyer representing Greylock told ESPN in an email that the latest iteration of the camp has never had any "affiliation whatsoever with Mainwaring." The lawyer did not respond to repeated emails seeking additional comment. The lawyer also did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

In his lawsuit and in interviews, Shapiro said that, after Greylock, he visited Mainwaring at Syracuse University, where the abuse continued. Greylock also has offices in New York.

Druger's and Shapiro's lawsuits were filed in New York as part of the state's Child Victims Act. Last year, lawmakers opened a one-year, one-time-only window in which victims of any age can come forward to seek prosecution, regardless of how long ago the acts occurred. The deadline to file is Aug. 14, although legislators are considering an extension to the one-year period.

Reach Mike Kessler at mikekessler@protonmail.com and Mark Fainaru-Wada at mark.fainaru-wada@espn.com.