Amended lawsuit filed on behalf of Olympian and champion taekwondo athletes alleges the USOC and US Center for SafeSport failed to protect athletes.
Online PR News – 27-August-2018 – Denver, CO – An amended lawsuit was filed Friday in Federal Court (USDC Colorado, Case 1:18-cv-00981-CMA-MEH) alleging that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and SafeSport, along with USA Taekwondo, secretly engaged in racketeering under RICO by obstructing a sexual abuse investigation into taekwondo coach Jean Lopez and his brother, Steven Lopez. Olympian Kay Poe also added her name to the sexual abuse lawsuit brought forth in April of 2018 by four champion taekwondo athletes.
In the filing, the lawsuit charges the USOC with the corruption of an official proceeding (lying to Congress), obstruction of enforcement of the sex trafficking laws, forced labor and services, sex trafficking, gross negligence, and negligence. The USOC, SafeSport, USA Taekwondo, Jean Lopez, and Steven Lopez are all named as defendants.
The lawsuit also alleges that during the 2015-2018 period, the USOC, SafeSport, and USA Taekwondo (USAT) formed an enterprise to obstruct and interfere with efforts to prosecute or remove the Lopez brothers from taekwondo. The USOC and USAT, it is claimed, worked together in secret to make sure that the investigation against the Lopez brothers was obstructed so that the Lopez brothers could compete and coach at the 2016 Rio Olympics. In furtherance of this enterprise, the lawsuit claims the two organizations made false and corrupting statements to Congress during official hearings in 2018 that were held specifically to ferret out the USOC's bad acts regarding sex crimes toward Team USA's athletes.
In naming the newly created US Center for SafeSport as a defendant in the lawsuit, it is alleged the entity has falsely held itself out to be an independent body which places the interests of athlete safety above those belonging to the USOC and its National Governing Bodies. Plaintiffs allege that SafeSport cannot effectively protect athletes from predators primarily because it is conflicted on account of the fact that the USOC entirely funds the entity.
"This case will conclusively demonstrate that SafeSport is a sham," stated attorney Robert Allard, a member of the nationally prominent legal team representing the plaintiffs. "We have seen case after case highlighted by the recent decision to reinstate alleged serial predator Jean Lopez where SafeSport bends over backward to protect pedophile coaches and, as a consequence, the financial interests of the USOC and its NGB's."
Joining the sexual abuse, forced labor, and sex trafficking lawsuit is 2000 Olympian Kay Poe. In 1996, at the age of 14, Poe became the youngest-ever member of the United States National Taekwondo team. She claims that one year before the Olympics, Jean Lopez began sexually exploiting her and engaging in full sexual intercourse with her, a fact known to many in the USOC and USAT community.
The original lawsuit charging the USOC with forced labor and sex trafficking was filed in April 2018 by champion taekwondo athletes Mandy Meloon, Heidi Gilbert, Amber Means, and Gabriella Joslin.
The attorneys representing the TKD athletes include Rex A. Sharp, Ryan C. Hudson, and Larkin E. Walsh of Rex A. Sharp, P.A., Robert Allard and Mark Boskovich of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, LLP, Steve Estey of Estey Bomberger, Jonathan Little of Saeed and Little, LLP, and Daniel A. Lipman of Parker Lipman, LLP.