An exclusive New York country club fired its head squash coach after raising allegations that a staff member was raped by a “prominent member” and that other members used the club to meet prostitutes, a new lawsuit alleges.
Natalie Grainger, 45, one of the most famous squash players in the world, says in court that a member of the club admitted paying a female staff member “not for squash.” That same employee said she was raped by the member.
In the complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Grainger said that instead of investigating the incidents, she was fired from her $145,000-a-year job.
According to the lawsuit, the club charges an entry fee of $170,000 and then an annual membership fee of $15,000. It is known for its two championship golf courses and beach club along the Long Island Sound, as well as its “family-oriented” reputation.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are the club itself, Mark Christiana, the president of the board, and Tom Nevin, the former club manager, who is now the manager of a South Carolina club.
Natalie Grainger was known as one of the best female squash players in the world, topping the ranking in 2003
Board chairman Mark Christiana, left, is accused of asking for Grainger’s resignation after she came forward, while club COO Tom Nevin said they had ‘lost faith’ in her
Grainger says that as soon as she was hired in 2018, she learned that one of her “immediate reports” had a sexual relationship with a member. The club’s bylaws prohibit fraternization between staff and members.
In 2021 she discovered something similar with another member and another squash coach. That member is referred to as a “virtual part” of the squash facility during that time.
Thanks to the affair, Grainger said the employee’s job performance suffered. She says the coach wouldn’t charge the member for the time she spent with him on the job.
A few months after discovering that affair, Grainger, a resident of Manchester, England, said she discovered a series of text messages in which members posted photos of women they had chosen for “fun.”
The lawsuit alleges that the women depicted in that thread were “sex workers.” The texts were sent to a woman who worked for Grainger.
In the complaint, Grainger said she sent an email to management complaining that: “At least one member engaged in ‘sexting’ — along with other members, including a bizarre example of a trail of posts with photos of three chosen ‘call girls’ by one of the members for the fun of that evening.’
A week after that email was sent, Christiana and Nevin “demanded Grainger’s resignation” because they had “lost faith in her.”
When she resisted, the pair threatened to shoot for her “cause,” Grainger claims.
She fired back, claiming the “cause” was because she “complained of serious sexual harassment at the club.”
In recent years, the club has hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the US Women’s Amateur Open
Natalie Grainger in action during the World Masters Squash Championship at Hong Kong Football Club
At one point, Grainger said an employee’s sister contacted her saying she felt the woman had been drugged in a bar by a member of the club. According to the lawsuit, Grainger “hurried to (the employee’s) home to tend to her.”
It was another employee who said she had been sexually assaulted by another board member at his home.
After expressing her concerns to several board members, Grainger said she was fired in March 2022.
After her firing, a board member’s wife informed Grainger of another rape involving the employee whose sister had said she was drunk.
In a statement released through her lawyers, Grainger said she was “appalled” to discover the behavior and was fired for “choosing to stand up for myself and other women.”
“I hope this lawsuit will help all those who have endured this kind of discrimination and bring change to the culture of the World Council of Churches,” Grainger also said.
The club’s website advertises the multiple golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, restaurants, private beach, racquetball courts, and wedding facilities.
In recent years, the club has hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the US Women’s Amateur Open.
The Westchester Country Club charged a $170,000 initiation fee and $15,000 in annual dues
The club is known for its multiple golf courses, tennis courts and wedding facilities
A longtime member, NBC’s Emmy award-winning golf announcer Jimmy Roberts, told me Westchester magazine in 2022: ‘It’s grand. They just don’t make places like that anymore.’
‘There’s something intimate about it, despite its size. It’s a club where you can get close to the people,” he added. Golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros and Arnold Palmer have played on the courses.
‘The future of WCC looks bright. We continue to invest in all areas of our facilities to meet the needs of current and future members,” said club president Mark Christiana in the same article.
Known as one of the best female squash players in the world, Grainger was ranked number one in 2003. Despite being born in England, she attended high school in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has represented the United States in international squash .
She has been a three-time World Masters champion and previously served as the president of the World Squash Association.
Grainger is asking for a jury trial to determine damages in the case.