Former Olympian Conrad Mainwaring was accused of attacking youth campers within the 1970s

4:35 pm ET

  • Mark Fainaru-Wada

    Shut downESPN Staff Writer

    • Investigative Reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise and Investigative Unit since 2007
    • Co-author of the New York Times bestsellers “League of Denial” and “Game of Shadows”
    • Co-winner of the George Polk Award 2004
  • Mike Kessler

A coach exposed by ESPN as alleged serial sexual abuse of boys and young men was arrested Wednesday for indecent crime and battery charges dating back to his time as a camp counselor in Massachusetts more than 40 years ago.

Conrad Avondale Mainwaring, a 69-year-old former Olympic gold medalist, was arrested walking out of a Los Angeles County courthouse where, minutes earlier, he had made no objection to a crime in a separate but related case.

Mainwaring’s most recent arrest comes from a Berkshire County, Massachusetts grand jury who three weeks ago charged him with twelve indecent assaults and battery. Nine of the cases concern alleged acts involving boys aged 14 and over, and three of the cases concern alleged acts involving boys under the age of 14.

Read: 44 years. 41 allegations. Now the past is catching up.

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The alleged crimes occurred in the mid to late 1970s when Mainwaring was a consultant at Camp Greylock for Boys, a summer sports camp in the Berkshires. There, Mainwaring molested seven boys over a period of several years, according to the indictment.

“Our interest is in creating justice and accountability, especially in crimes where victims are vulnerable,” said Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County District Attorney. “And in this particular case, you have young people outside of their families who have been persecuted by an adult who has used their trust to abuse the relationship.”

Mainwaring has lived in Los Angeles since the late 1980s and is now awaiting extradition to Massachusetts. Harrington said Mainwaring could face 12 to 36 months in prison under Massachusetts’ sentencing guidelines if found guilty of the charges.

Previously, an almost three-year ESPN investigation had found more than 50 men who said they had been abused as boys or young men by Mainwaring from the early 1970s to 2016. Mainwaring was arrested in Los Angeles in June 2019 for sexual acts by battery fraud against a then 20-year-old UCLA student – a case sparked by ESPN coverage. He has not responded to multiple ESPN requests for comment since 2019.

Minutes before his arrest on Wednesday, Mainwaring was pleading for a false detention charge in the LA case, not a challenge. He did not have to register as a sex offender, nor does the cause of action prevent him from coaching boys or young men. The deal calls for him to be on probation for two years and to attend 52 sex offender classes and do 30 days of community service.

The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told ESPN that he was initially struck by what he thought was an easy sentence, but was reassured when he found out about the Massachusetts case.

“It doesn’t feel like he got away with it anymore, which was the feeling I was trying to avoid,” he said. “Knowing that he would be arrested and possibly extradited made everything right.”

Conrad Mainwaring worked with hundreds of boys at Camp Greylock in the 1970s. This photo of him comes from a yearbook of the camp. Camp Greylock Yearbook

The Massachusetts case surfaced in the fall of 2019 shortly after ESPN released a story detailing the experiences of dozens of alleged victims, including seven at Camp Greylock. Soon after, Sgt. Stephen Jones of the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit opened an investigation.

Although the statute of limitations on the alleged incidents expired decades ago, prosecutors argue that the statute of limitations was frozen or “chargeable” when Mainwaring left Massachusetts for good in the late 1970s. The toll is designed to prevent someone from committing a crime in a state, moving away until the statute of limitations expires, and then returning without fear of prosecution. In this case, there is no record of Mainwaring continuing to live in Massachusetts or returning to Massachusetts after he stopped working at Camp Greylock.

“I’m shocked we got to this day and I’m really happy,” said John Shapiro, who is one of the alleged victims in the Massachusetts case and previously told ESPN he was 14 years old when he was molested by Mainwaring at Camp Greylock. “I’m really sure he will never do this to anyone else. Of course we all want justice and have him behind bars, but goal # 1 that he never abuse anyone again looks like a reality.”

Michael Waxman, another alleged victim in the Massachusetts case who previously told ESPN that Mainwaring molested him as a 13-year-old camper at Greylock, said, “I’m really happy about it … I really feel like it . ” putting him in jail is necessary to protect other young men. “

At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Mainwaring ran for the tiny island nation of Antigua. He later trained some top runners, in particular two-time gold medalist Felix Sanchez. (Sanchez is not one of Mainwaring’s prosecutors.)

Virtually all of his alleged victims said Mainwaring used his Olympic qualifications and relationships with seasoned athletes, as well as his knowledge of psychology and physiology, to persuade them to train with him. They said he initiated sexual contact under the guise of mental training, which was aimed at getting them to control and manipulate erections and testosterone levels in order to improve athletic performance.

After Camp Greylock, Mainwaring worked and studied for five years at Syracuse University, where 22 men told ESPN they molested them when they were college or high school students. Mainwaring then spent nearly two years at Colgate University, where he allegedly molested three other young men. He moved to Southern California in 1987 to work at Caltech, which eventually fired Mainwaring in response to a student complaint.

Fifteen men reported being sexually abused by Mainwaring in California, some while attending UCLA and exercising on the school’s racetrack, a public facility Mainwaring is known to recruit and train athletes from. To date, 52 men have reached out to ESPN to say they were sexually abused as boys or as young men by their former coach.

So far, 52 men have reached out to ESPN to say they have been sexually abused as boys or young men by Mainwaring since the 1970s. Rachel Bujalski for ESPN

Although Mainwaring wasn’t employed by UCLA, the University of California’s Board of Regents was named in a civil lawsuit in September. The lawsuit, filed by an unnamed plaintiff, states that Mainwaring used its relationship with UCLA sports staff to court and harass the man when he was in high school in 2011. The UCLA sports department declined to comment when ESPN first covered the lawsuit.

Also last year, Shapiro and another man, Robert Druger, filed civil suits against Syracuse University. They said the school received “credible reports of mainwaring sexual abuse” in the 1980s but made no response. The lawsuits contain no details in support of the allegation that Syracuse was previously aware of Mainware’s alleged abuse.

Syracuse was asked to comment on the lawsuit at the time and issued a statement that read: “Based on this extensive review, we have not been able to find or identify a person who reported the alleged conduct to university officials when it occurred.” Shapiro is also suing Camp Greylock.

The men who ran the warehouse when Mainwaring worked there are dead. Previously, after several unsuccessful attempts to reach out to the warehouse’s current owners, ESPN had received an email from an attorney saying it had the final iteration of the warehouse never had any “affiliation with Mainwaring”.

Mark Fainaru-Wada has been a senior writer with ESPN since 2007. Reach him at Mike Kessler is the investigative editor at KPCC, a Los Angeles subsidiary of National Public Radio. Reach him at Freelance journalist Chole Marie Rivera contributed to this report.

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