A federal lawsuit was also filed in Denver against former Olympic gold medalist in Taekwondo Steven Lopez and his brother, Jean Lopez, former Team USA Coach, after four women accused the brothers of rape and assault. The US Olympic Committee says that it is "aggressively exploring and implementing new ways to enhance athlete safety, and prevent and respond to abuse," but an attorney for the four women (who have come forward along with the 44 other yet unidentified women) claim that the committee was aware of the situation.
"Much like a pimp who traffics women for money, the USOC was trafficking its athletes to known sexual abusers for money and medals," says attorney Rex Sharp.
This latest lawsuit, which names USA Taekwondo along with the USOC for turning a blind eye to predators, comes after an investigation conducted by the US Center for SafeSport found Jean Lopez responsible for sexual misconduct. Lopez was then permanently banned from participating in USOC events. While Lopez's ban happened only just recently, the investigation spans back to 2015, and although the investigation was still pending at the time, Lopez was allowed to participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"By shielding Jean while simultaneously attacking his accusers, the USOC and USA TKD ratified Jean's criminal acts and signaled to all female athletes that the rape culture of Team USA was acceptable behavior to which all female athletes had to submit," the lawsuit states.
In the community, the Lopez brothers were referred to as the "first family of taekwondo," and the lawsuit claims that complaints against them would go nowhere, often resulting in negative consequences for the accusers. It's also alleged that abuse of the hands of the Lopez brothers was not a secret within US TKD community.
CNN details the history of abuse and complaints which can be read in full here.
Victims of the Lopez brothers are seeking relief under the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, claiming that the brothers benefited from exploiting the young girls while bringing them around the world to participate in Olympic events.
"The USOC knowingly trafficked these girls to obtain medals and money, time and again," says Jon Little, one of the plaintiff's lawyers.