The former diving coach at Towson University pleaded guilty Wednesday to placing a cellphone in a locker room and secretly recording members of a team that once considered her to be a "second mom."
Maureen Mead, 43, received three years of probation before judgment, which would allow her record to eventually be cleared if she meets all conditions.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Mead pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to visual surveillance — also known as "peeping Tom" — and altering physical evidence in connection to the October incident. Prosecutors dropped a felony wiretap charge.
Mead, who was fired, is married to former Towson head swimming coach Pat Mead, who resigned in December.
Dozens of swim team members and some of their parents filled the courtroom as a county prosecutor offered the first public account of what happened, saying the team's coaching staff at the time believed the women's team members were "talking bad" about the program and sabotaging recruitment efforts.
Prosecutor Lisa Dever told Circuit Judge Jan Marshall Alexander that the day before the phone was discovered, there had been a meeting to resolve issues on the team, including disputes between upperclassmen and freshmen and comments exchanged on social media.
About 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 16, several women in the locker room saw a light shining off the back of Maureen Mead's locker, Dever said. They went to check it out and found an iPhone propped up on a shampoo bottle and partially covered by a knit cap. Only members of the team have access to the room, and the lockers have no doors on them.
A 19-year-old team member picked up the phone and saw that it was recording. She watched a short portion, seeing two teammates getting undressed. Other women in the locker room ran out and told an assistant coach, who gave the phone back to Maureen Mead.
Mead said she had lost her phone and "was so glad" the team found it, Dever said.
No one from the coaching staff called police, Dever said. It was not until a team member's mother called a dean at the school that Towson University campus police were called to investigate — about four hours after the phone was found.
By the time police seized the phone, it had been "factory reset," Dever said — with all information erased.
Two days later, Pat Mead called assistant coach Adrienne Phillips, met her off school grounds and told her she should reset her phone, Dever said. He also told her that he and his wife had reset their phones and iPads.
Dever said the women did not believe their coach's intent was to record them getting undressed, but rather to spy on them talking. Team members had even joked before that they thought they were being recorded because the Meads knew things from private conversations.
Dever argued for a three-year suspended sentence, saying the swimmers had suffered a betrayal of trust that was "heart-wrenching." The coaching staff downplayed the incident, making the women feel worse, she said.
"They dedicate everything — their heart and their soul goes into it," Dever said of the swimmers. "They would've walked the ends of the earth for their coaches."
Alexander heard emotional testimony from seven women who described how Maureen Mead's actions affected them. Some said Mead had once felt like a "second mom."
The betrayal of trust shook their sense of identity, they said. One woman said she felt sick to her stomach going to the pool after the phone incident. Several women described feeling paranoid about being recorded in the locker room, once considered a private place.
Mead, a former teacher, briefly addressed the court and apologized. A mother of four, she said she has lost her reputation and career. She also wished the women luck in their future swimming careers.
"I never intentionally would hurt any of them," she said.
She has struggled to find a new job because of the charges, defense attorney David Irwin said. USA Swimming, the sport's governing body, filed administrative charges against her, Irwin said.
"The Meads have been punished," said Irwin, urging the judge to grant probation before judgment.
Alexander said Maureen Mead's actions appeared to be an "act of desperation."
"It's just wrong on so many levels," he said.
He ordered her not to have contact with the victims, to stay away from the Towson campus, and not to coach "at any level" during her probation.
Some women who addressed the media after the hearing said they were disappointed with the punishment and with their former coach's comments in the courtroom.
"There was no real apology," said Hannah Snyder, a senior. "There was just a 'Good luck with the rest of your life.' … We just expected a little more."
In a statement, Towson spokesman Ray Feldmann said school officials "respect the judicial system and the process that took place today."
"This is a difficult situation and we will continue to provide support for our student-athletes," he said.