page contents Lawsuit Accuses Taekwondo Olympian and His Coach, Who Are Brothers, of Sexual Abuse – The News Headline

Lawsuit Accuses Taekwondo Olympian and His Coach, Who Are Brothers, of Sexual Abuse

Two brothers who had been towering figures on the earth of taekwondo — one an Olympian gold medalist, the opposite his longtime trainer — had been accused of sexually assaulting feminine athletes, together with minors, for years in a lawsuit filed in federal court docket on Friday.

The lawsuit additionally accused the US Olympic Committee and the nationwide sports activities group U.S.A. Taekwondo of turning a blind eye to the abuse and permitting coaches and athletes who had proven a development of predatory habits to take global journeys with younger girls and women.

The accusations are the newest in a chain of fees — very similar to ones that experience upended U.S.A. Swimming and U.S.A. Gymnastics — alleging that officers at sports activities organizations affiliated with the Olympics neglected reviews of abuse and sexual misconduct.

[Learn in regards to the case of Larry Nassar, the sports activities physician accused of sexually abusing greater than 160 younger ladies.]

The lawsuit, which names 5 John Does some of the defendants, mentioned the allegations happened over twenty years and integrated “sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking” of Olympic athletes by way of the “officers, coaches, and mentors who had been entrusted to offer protection to them.”

The swimsuit was once meant to carry institutional alternate in order that athletes’ protection takes priority over “medals and cash,” mentioned Jonathan Little, one of the most attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

“We have now were given to forestall pondering of the usO.C. as a bystander. They had been lively individuals,” he mentioned.

The swimsuit additionally named Steven Lopez, 39, a embellished athlete and Olympic gold medalist, and his brother, Jean Lopez, 44, a distinguished trainer, as defendants and laid out the sexual abuse and misconduct claims towards them intimately.

U.S.A. Taekwondo introduced an investigation into the claims in 2015, and the brothers final yr denied allegations of sexual abuse. Mr. Little mentioned he was once now not acutely aware of the brothers having been charged with any crimes. On Sunday, their legal professional declined to remark at the swimsuit.

The Lopez circle of relatives is well known in taekwondo circles. Steven Lopez is a five-time Olympian and three-time medalist. His siblings, Mark and Diana, also are Olympians, and Jean Lopez has coached all 3 of them.

In conjunction with dozens of Jane Does, 4 ladies are named as plaintiffs within the lawsuit. One among them, Heidi Gilbert, 36, mentioned Jean Lopez was her trainer in 2002.

“My Olympic dream was once so sturdy,” she mentioned on Saturday. “I in point of fact sought after to visit the Olympics.” She educated with Jean Lopez on the Pan American Taekwondo Championships in Ecuador the place she received a gold medal.

In a while after that victory, she mentioned she was once in a resort room along with his sister. Then he arrived, and his sister left.

“I assumed we had been going to speak about my coaching and furthering my Olympic desires, and he throws me at the mattress,” she mentioned.

The swimsuit mentioned he rubbed himself towards her till he ejaculated in his pants. “I simply bear in mind being like, ‘Wait, no, that didn’t simply occur,’” she mentioned.

Ms. Gilbert mentioned Jean Lopez stayed in touch and gave the look to be invested in her luck in taekwondo, so she sooner or later moved to Texas to coach with him and different elite athletes. However she described the surroundings as “dysfunctional” and “virtually cultish,” and all through every other travel in a foreign country — to Germany in 2003 — she mentioned Jean Lopez gave her a drugged drink and sexually assaulted her in a resort.

Ms. Gilbert reported her proceedings in 2015. The lawsuit mentioned she had now not alerted officers on the time as a result of she feared she can be neglected. She left Texas in past due 2003.

The united statesO.C., which oversees Olympic and Paralympic sports activities in the US, final yr opened the U.S. Middle for SafeSport to assist nationwide sports activities organizations save you abuse and harassment.

Requested in regards to the lawsuit, Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the usO.C., mentioned in a commentary that the group “is deeply serious about supporting, protective and empowering the athletes we serve.”

“The release of the U.S. Middle for SafeSport, together with quite a lot of further important movements we’re taking, will make sure that our athletes are higher safe from those heinous acts,” he added.

Any other plaintiff within the lawsuit was once 15 when she was once sexually abused by way of Jean Lopez and raped by way of every other grownup athlete, court docket papers mentioned. It added that about 5 years later, she was once crushed and raped by way of Steven Lopez, with whom she was once in a sexual dating.

The competitor filed written proceedings to U.S.O.C. officers in 2006 accusing Jean and Steven Lopez of abuse, however she was once discredited whilst the brothers maintained their positions and affect, the swimsuit mentioned.

Her case was once picked up by way of SafeSport in 2017, which discovered her claims and the ones of Ms. Gilbert and others to be credible. Ultimate month, Jean Lopez was once banned from Olympic training after SafeSport discovered him responsible of sexual misconduct, USA These days reported. Steven Lopez was once indexed as being beneath a “restriction,” consistent with the SafeSport web site, however what precisely that intended was once unclear.

U.S.A. Taekwondo mentioned in a commentary on Sunday that it was once reviewing the lawsuit. “As that is an in-process felony topic it will be beside the point for us to remark additional right now,” it mentioned.

Ms. Gilbert, who runs her personal martial arts college together with her husband in California, mentioned the investigations have dragged on. She mentioned she spent a couple of yr detailing her studies with a legal professional employed by way of U.S.A. Taekwondo after which needed to do it all over the place once more for SafeSport.

“It’s with regards to getting our tale available in the market and having alternate,” she mentioned. “That’s what must occur. They are able to’t stay doing this sort of stuff to other folks.”

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