Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wretched timing to be sick.

Well, after a wonderful week of nearly-daily training (crossfit and jiu jitsu) I seem to have fallen prey to another cold.  I suspect it's because I'm on the immune suppressant medications to resolve my infertility issues... but in any case, it makes me sad to miss training while our visiting brownbelt is in town.  I hope I feel well enough to train tomorrow-- but I'm definitely off the mats for tonight.

In the meantime, check out this series of videos by Stephen Kesting with fifty ways to improve your grappling immediately.  I think I need these reviews-- I've forgotten a lot, and what I do remember is MUCH harder than I remember it being (and it was dang hard in my memory.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Did the legal system fail by acquitting Lloyd of rape?

In commenting on my Luca post, Anonymous (in part) asked the following:

"Can you explain how and why the legal system failed in this case, would it still fail under today's system?"

I thought this was a really good question.  I'm going to answer it, not as a prosecutor who works for the state agency in my state (because this is a case in another jurisdiction that is separate from my professional role) but as a lawyer who went to law school and knows where to look on the internet for publicly available information.  This is neither a statement of the official policy or position of my employer, nor is it based on any "insider" information.

The short answer is, the legal system only failed to the extent that the State did not foresee his testimony that he wanted to rape, tried to rape, and couldn't because of impotence.... nor did the State foresee testimony which would call into question the victim's ability to accurately identify all those who penetrated her.  (These are the two sticking points which saved him from proof beyond a reasonable doubt.) 

I would only imagine getting a better result if the State had taken the prescient step of charging him with an attempted assault, charging him additionally as a party (that's what we call it in Texas; in Virginia I believe the call it a principal in the second degree), and charging him with kidnapping.  And on to the long answer:

First, let's consider what information is available in the newspaper articles of the time.  The links were posted in a Sherdog post.

Found here: (I'm going to post the relevant portions for our conversation with my comments in brackets)

April 24, 1990| By RONNIE CROCKER Staff Writer
NEWPORT NEWS — Two men charged with participating in a gang rape of a 17-year-old Hampton University freshman were acquitted Monday of rape.

[Irvin was only charged with rape as no evidence indicated that he forced her to go down on him, and Gatlin was charged with both sodomy, for the forced fellatio, and rape, for holding her down while Irvin raped her.]

One of the defendants, 21-year-old Terrence C. Gatling, was found guilty of sodomy for forcing the girl to have oral sex with him.

[Note: this means that forcible oral sex is not considered "rape" under the laws in effect at that time.]

. . .  Jurors contacted later said they believed Irvin when he testified he wanted to have sex with the girl, but was temporarily impotent. Uncontested testimony revealed that the girl had oral sex a nd sexual intercourse with seven to 10 men in Gatling's apartment. . . She maintains it all happened against her will; the men claim she was a willing participant, a "freak," as one witness described her.

Juror Paul J. Hoyt, an electrical engineer, said he believes the girl was the victim of a gang rape.
"I think it's obvious from the verdict that we didn't think she was there voluntarily," he said Monday afternoon.
. . .
The six men and six women on the jury deliberated more than four hours . . . after sending out a note asking whether they could convict the men on lesser charges.  On Monday morning, Circuit Judge Robert W. Curran told them they could not. Foster said it was the consensus of all attorneys involved that to allow lesser charges that late in the proceedings would put the case in danger of being overturned on appeal.

[The prosecutors did not get an indictment against/charge Irvin for any other crime prior to the trial's start, such as attempted sexual assault.]
 . . .
Defense attorneys Ron Smith and John J. Rice argued repeatedly that the girl, a scholarship student who had been on campus only six weeks when the incident occurred, did not claim she was raped until she realized that word of her tryst was spreading across campus.

[Ergo the jury was presented with the defense theory that she was a dirty whore who had a train run on her and only regretted it later.  But the jury did not believe it, otherwise, they couldn't have found Gatlin guilty of sodomizing her.]

. . .
At one point, she said, Gatling held her down and forced her to have oral sex with him, while Irvin had sexual intercourse with her. The two defendants testified the girl had invited Irvin to have sex with her and offered to perform oral sex with Gatling after Irvin was temporarily impotent.

[The jury rejected this defense theory, again, because they convicted Gatling of forcing her.]

Juror Bessie Mae Singleton, who is also a candidate for City Council, said she believes the girl was the victim of a gang rape, but she was not convinced of Irvin's role.
"I had doubt and that is what saved Lloyd Irvin," Singleton said. "If I could have done it without that doubt, believe me, he would have served some time."
Gatling was charged with rape because the victim said he helped Irvin by holding her down. Singleton said she believes the girl may have mistaken Irvin for someone else.
"It could have been someone else that penetrated her," Singleton said.
 [end of article]

 So that tells us that the legal system did what it was supposed to do, to my way of thinking.  The prosecutors brought the charges to the grand jury that their evidence supported-- rape against Irvin and sodomy against Gatlin. They didn't know, before the trial, that Irvin would claim impotence or that the victim would testify in some way which called into question her ability to solidly identify Irvin as having penetrated her.  Now with the advantage of hindsight it's easy to think of covering all the bases more thoroughly, and I like to believe a more experienced prosecutor might have done so in the spirit of CYA.  But it doesn't mean the laws needed to change.

Here's the law that applied at the time:
Copyright (c) 1949-1989 by The Michie Company, All rights reserved.

§ 18.2-61. Rape.

A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness who is not his or her spouse or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness's will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person, or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness, or (iii) with a child under age thirteen as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.
. . . 
§ 18.2-67.1. Forcible sodomy.

A. An accused shall be guilty of forcible sodomy if he or she engages in cunnilingus, fellatio, anallingus, or anal intercourse with a complaining witness who is not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in such acts with any other person, and

1. The complaining witness is less than thirteen years of age, or

2. The act is accomplished against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person, or through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness.
* * * * *
Unless it is otherwise stated, if a statute makes an act criminal, it imposes on all persons who are present purposely giving aid and comfort to the actual wrongdoer criminal responsibility equal to that of the wrongdoer. Spradlin v. Commonwealth, 195 Va. 523, 79 S.E.2d 443 (1954).
Incapacity to commit the offense is no defense. — The mere fact of incapacity to commit an offense as a principal in the first degree does not prevent one who aids and abets the principal offender from being held criminally liable as a principal in the second degree. Adkins v. Commonwealth, 175 Va. 590, 9 S.E.2d 349 (1940).

If there is concert of action with the resulting crime one of its incidental probable consequences, then whether such crime was originally contemplated or not, all who participate in any way in bringing it about are equally answerable and bound by the acts of every other person connected with the consummation of such resulting crime. The question of whether the offense is the natural and probable result of the intended wrongful act is usually for the jury. Spradlin v. Commonwealth, 195 Va. 523, 79 S.E.2d 443 (1954).
Accomplice may be punished despite silence of statute creating an offense. — Where the statute creating an offense fails to provide for the guilt of an accomplice, the omission is not generally considered to indicate an intent to exclude such parties from criminal responsibility. Adkins v. Commonwealth, 175 Va. 590, 9 S.E.2d 349 (1940).
A principal in the second degree is one not the perpetrator, but present, aiding and abetting the act done, or keeping watch or guard at some convenient distance. Brown v. Commonwealth, 130 Va. 733, 107 S.E. 809 (1921); Spradlin v. Commonwealth, 195 Va. 523, 79 S.E.2d 443 (1954); Ward v. Commonwealth, 205 Va. 564, 138 S.E.2d 293 (1964). See Grant v. Commonwealth, 216 Va. 166, 217 S.E.2d 806 (1975).
A principal in the second degree, or an aider or abettor as he is sometimes termed, is one who is present, actually or constructively, assisting the perpetrator in the commission of the crime. In order to make a person a principal in the second degree actual participation in the commission of the crime is not necessary. The test is whether or not he was encouraging, inciting, or in some manner offering aid in the commission of the crime. If he was present lending countenance, or otherwise aiding while another did the act, he is an aider and abettor or principal in the second degree. Jones v. Commonwealth, 208 Va. 370, 157 S.E.2d 907 (1967).
 A principal in the second degree is one who is not only present at a crime's commission, but one who also commits some overt act, such as inciting, encouraging, advising, or assisting in the commission of the crime or shares the perpetrator's criminal intent. Moehring v. Commonwealth, 223 Va. 564, 290 S.E.2d 891 (1982).

It is well settled law that mere presence is not sufficient to render one guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of crime. There must be something done or said by him showing his consent to the felonious purpose and contributing to its execution. Reynolds v. Commonwealth, 74 Va. (33 Gratt.) 834 (1880); Kemp v. Commonwealth, 80 Va. 443 (1885); Wren v. Commonwealth, 67 Va. (26 Gratt.) 952 (1875) See; Horton v. Commonwealth, 99 Va. 848, 38 S.E. 184 (1901); Brown v. Commonwealth, 130 Va. 733, 107 S.E. 809 (1921); Spradlin v. Commonwealth, 195 Va. 523, 79 S.E.2d 443 (1954).

* * * * *

So, I think the State (or as Virginia terms it, the Commonwealth) could have asked the grand jury for an indictment (the document well in advance of trial which informs the defendant what crimes he is accused of) on rape as a principal in the first degree and as a principal in the second degree, which would have gotten around both the impotence and "can't ID who penetrated her" issues.

Does this mean the legal system failed?  Yes and no.  I can see the argument that the prosecutor should have charged Irvin with as many things as possible.  Not having access to all the information and not knowing all the various reasons for the prosecutors' choices, I can't tell you why they didn't.  I can only look and see that given what we know about the evidence from the newspaper articles and the explanations of some of the jurors, the jury did the right thing in answering the question before it.  Would I, on this information, have charged and pled the case differently?  It's always easier being a Monday morning quarterback.

And I'm not even getting into the question of whether he was possibly guilty of kidnapping or attempted assault.  It's time for me to get dinner on the table and go to the academy.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm on Bullshido's podcast!

I spoke today briefly about the Lloyd Irvin rape case... the whole podcast episode is about these issues!

It's on live now... not sure if this link will permit future listens..

Also... preorders now available for an awesome gi patch...

 Image of 5" 97% Patch - Preorder
Get them here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

An easy way to do something positive about this rape thing...

Meerkatsu, Tatami, and BJJ HQ have teamed up to produce a REALLY cool t-shirt-- the design is secret for now but I will give you a hint, it has a strong woman and a wicked submission-- and all proceeds will go to rape crisis and prevention.  We're hoping for both mens' and womens' sizes, too.

In the US, ONLY ONE HUNDRED will be sold through BJJHQ's one day sale. The profits will be given to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.  RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine.
In the UK, Tatami Fightwear will be making JUST FIFTY and profits from the tee will go to a rape crisis charity over there (I don't have details on that just yet.)

As soon as I get more info, you know you will find it here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

First appearance in NYE rape case, this morning.

Luca Atalla speaks for GracieMag about Lloyd Irvin

If you haven't read Luca Atalla's post about Lloyd Irvin, it can be found here, but I'll comment below.  (And my apologies for any readers who found the red font color difficult;  I'll present my thoughts in italics this time.)  And what a shame-- Luca has blocked me from commenting further on his page.  I'm crushed!  :(

"You know I am against rape. I am against any type of violence, domestic, urban, between countries or whatever its may be.

way to minimize rape

This is obvious. I think everybody who follows me or GRACIEMAG has the same opinion.

apparently not, as I keep reading comments from men like Phil Proctor who think victims of gang rape are probably just dirty whores who got a train run and then regretted it later...

I was avoiding speaking about this recent case involving three Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in Maryland for several reasons.
The main one is that Jiu-Jitsu cannot be blamed for anything.  Human beings are capable of doing bad things, students, teachers, competitors, practitioners, etc… I do believe with all my heart Jiu-Jitsu can make people better.  But sadly it doesn’t always make changes in them.

straw man argument
The case is  being covered by many news outlets with commitments beyond our mission that is “To Promote Jiu-Jitsu”.
I fully support the victim and stand in sprit with her in her recovery. That said, we at Graciemag to this point didn’t think we had anything greater or positive to contribute to this story.  Actually we felt that the more we addressed it the more Jiu-Jitsu would suffer, which is not our mission.
However, for the last two weeks people took advantage of the situation to practice what a famous Brazilian journalist calls “reputation murder”.  In this case specifically the murder of Lloyd Irvin Jr.’s reputation.

as I said in my initial comment to your piece-- there's no reputation murder here.  It's reputation suicide.  Would you say that people crying out against the Sandy Hook shootings were committing reputation murder against Adam Lanza? 
Is there anyone seriously thinking he has a “rape culture” in place?

My "tidbits" post repeating the comments of Madgrappler addressed this.  Did Lloyd intentionally foster a rape culture?  of course not.  He's not that stupid. 

Even if you don’t like his teaching style or marketing style or anything about him, how is it possible to blame him for the actions of two of his students (one with him for less than a month, the other for seven months).

straw man argument.  I never had a problem with Lloyd prior to this-- he's apparently a good coach, though I really don't like the email marketing and got off all those lists.  But no one is blaming him for Nick and Mateo.  We're blaming Lloyd for Lloyd.
Look, it does seem that these two guys truly did something despicable.  But the truth is… no matter how bad the circumstances seem and how strong are the evidence is against them, the world we live in gives people the benefit of being innocent until they are proven guilty by the legal system.  As much as I don’t approve of the circumstances as fellow human beings we owe them this.

I agree with you.
I understand that people have differences with Lloyd Irvin, his language, his way to do business. I’ve disagreed with him on a few things in the past.  I have called him and told him directly.  We talked about my disapproval, he explained his side.  I may not change his views,  and he may not change mine, however at least we respect each other and speak honestly to each other.
But now I must speak equally as honestly to some in the Jiu-Jitsu community and say that I think using this sensitive moment to attack him is cowardice and disrespectful to both him and the woman who suffered the night of this attack.

We would probably have had this conversation earlier if we'd known.  Too bad they came up around the same time.  I don't think the survivor of 2012 would really object to a community taking a stand against rapists.  If anything, I imagine she might be objecting to all the assholes out there saying things like "just goes to show you shouldn't be getting drunk" and "she was the team whore" and "she'd just broken up with one of the rapists."  Because yes, those things are being said too-- thanks TLI for sharing your insider info-- and that kind of victim blaming is coming out of the same mouths that are so hot and heavy to defend Lloyd.
People are kicking the dog, because they think it’s dead. They didn’t stand against the dog when he was alive and barking.

When Lloyd was barking, he wasn't barking about his criminal past.  Now that it's come to light, he's barking another tune.  See my open letter post from yesterday.
Bringing past stories (no matter how unsightly they may be) to associate with this isolated case will not push me to judge him.
Lloyd has wife and son.  I know this man NOW and have for many years.  He has been a significant contributor to the betterment of our beloved Jiu-Jitsu for over a decade and a half (admittedly not I am not in agreement with ALL of his contributions but on a whole they have done far more positive and good for us than anything else) And unless something relevant that links him DIRECTLY to this particular case comes out I’m backing him.
Because I feel the information he has shared with me CAN make a positive come from all the negative I’m providing a forum for him to share his side of this story and hopefully bring some healing and growth for us.

Just because the man was paid to be a good coach (and apparently earned his pay) doesn't mean he deserves a pass on his gang rape.

If any of you should ever find themselves in need of a safe haven to fairly tell their side of a story I am open to listen.  Our channels are closed however, for attackers, or reputation murderers, whatever reasons they have.

 I am sure we would all like to hear from Lloyd's rape survivor.  But would you consider her a reputation murderer or attacker?


And now, let me share some of the comments I found most interesting.   Again, if I have a response I'll do so in italics.

[from Luca] Rebecca, thanks for your position. I agree we should examine sexualized violence within our community always, as much as all other types of violence, to be honest.
Don’t think, however, that choosing one person to lynch (as a sample) would fix or better a system. Most people criticizing in truth don’t care about bettering our community or the world, they will be happy solely to put him down. That’s it.
I always welcome any discussion that intends to make our society/community safer and less violent. I prefer to leave to the legal system, however, any judgement of a person with name, face and family. I don’t fill like I have the resources and knowledge to condemn people and make it public.

Lloyd isn't being lynched and to use the term so lightly is insulting to the real victims of real lynchings.  Here's the difference-- not only are we posing zero threat of violence to Lloyd, we are critiquing him in a public forum for actions he took and continues to take.  We are not a lawless mob acting outside the legal system to retaliate against an innocent person who did nothing wrong aside from having the wrong color skin.  Lloyd properly is being held to account for his actions which are in conflict with his words.    

And for you to say we're lynching him, criticizing him unfairly, attacking him, kicking him while he's down and murdering his reputation and then in the next breath say you don't have the resources and knowledge to publicly condemn people??  laughable.

[from Alon]
With all due respect, this is a complete cop-out.
You say, “As for the 1989 case, I don’t have enough information to assess it properly, but fact is that I cannot judge again someone who was acquitted.”
The evidence of his testimony is out there, you are either ignoring it, or not understanding the what he said under oath. You are also ignoring the sworn testimony of the victim. You are also omitting that the acquittal had far more to do with the fact that the juries (all of whom agreed this girl was raped) did not have the legal mechanism to convict him for the crime he committed, because rape law in 1989 in MD was woefully inadequate. The juries did not say, “Lloyd Irvin did nothing wrong,” they said, “according to the legal standard we can’t convict him of rape and there is no lesser ‘attempted rape’ charge we CAN convict him of.” That is a HUGE difference.
So please, stop hiding behind the acquittal and answer the question. What is your response to his statement, given under oath, that he really wanted to actively participate in the gang-rape of a 17 year old girl, but could not get it up?

Yes.  Yes.  Exactly this.


[Luca responds to Natalie]

There are two sides of this story, like all others. One is the victim’s side. The other is the accused side. We are all open to the victim when and if she wants to speak. We don’t demand investigations, we don’t judge what is an appropriate response. That’s the difference. You wrote “I would (…)” Everybody has a choice. Unlike you, we are not judges.
We are not defending anybody, we are defending to preserve someone reputation just hurt in this case because he didn’t act like you think he should have acted. Are you the owner of the right and wrong, the owner of the truth? Congrats, but we are not, so for that reason only we let the legal system work.

[and I responded]
Wow, Luca. I think you vastly misstate the situation to say there are two sides– Lloyd’s and “the victim’s”– number one, the issue you keep missing is that there are TWO survivors here. (Since neither died, neither is a victim– they’re rape SURVIVORS.) One from Lloyd’s gang rape in 1989, one from Nick and Mateo’s gang rape in 2012.
But there are other sides to the issue– what about the public, the audience, the consumers of your magazine and of Lloyd’s products?
I’m glad, though, that you are acknowledging your role in this. You’re not seeking the truth, you are seeking to preserve Lloyd’s reputation. And you minimize the complaints by framing them as “he didn’t act like you think he should have acted.” Excuse me, any crime, any immorality, any hurtful behavior towards others can be likewise minimized. People aren’t upset with Lloyd because he didn’t hold a door for a lady, or because he cut in line at the post office. Those are behaviors which would more appropriately be described as “not acting like people think he should have acted.”
Nope, Lloyd participated in a gang rape. And yes, pretty much everyone here (except you?) can agree that that is wrong. And pretty much everyone here knows the difference between a finding of not guilty by the legal system and innocent. Lloyd was found not guilty of a specific legal charge but he was NOT innocent.
But please, continue defending him. He didn’t give you much to work with, but it is entertaining to listen to you try.

[Luca replies]
Again, you didn’t understand what I wrote. The accused is not even Lloyd. They are the two involved in the NYE tragedy. The 1989 episode has nothing to do with that.

You can insist that we're not supposed to talk about Lloyd all you want.  They are separate crimes.  You're right.  But to insist that you're defending Lloyd's reputation from attacks related to the 2012 gang rape is to willfully obfuscate.  You're also defending his reputation regarding the 1989 gang rape.  Let's just be honest about that.

You claim to look for all “facts”, but some anonymous person writes a comment saying he’s a black belt (he can be, but it’s an assumption, not a fact), and then you write: “So heartening to hear this coming from a blackbelt. Really encouraging. Thank you!”. You act like you own all the facts, but what you’re doing is only finding things on internet and giving them exposure.

You're right, I don't know if that guy (in an earlier comment) is really a black belt.  So?  Is there some other fact that I don't have support for in the public record?  is there some other fact I have wrong?
Did you try to speak or help or support the victim?

Straw man.  The survivor of the 2012 gang rape is anonymous and rightly so.  I also do not know the name of the 1989 gang rape survivor.  I have, however, tried to support them by speaking out in a way that I hope someone would do for me, were I the survivor.  Because I am a sexual assault survivor.  And at least I can empathize with how they might be feeling.
Are you doing anything to help stopping future cases of violence?

I'm a prosecutor.  I'm also a volunteer sexual assault/domestic violence crisis counselor, have been since 1993.  I also help teach women's self defense seminars a few times a year.  Bring it.
Or are you just amusing your time (you probably have a lot to spare) living this episode? Please let me run that I have more people to help.

Yeah, this is so AMUSING to me.  You and Lloyd definitely did bring a smirk to my lips.  But I chose to MAKE time to address these issues.  I don't have a lot to spare, what with working full time, training, and all life's other activities.  Oh, sorry, I shouldn't keep you, from your job which is all about helping people... by .... oh yeah, running a jiu jitsu magazine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a few more tidbits...

I thought Madgrappler's comments worthy of repeating/reposting...  found here originally...

"What kind of culture does Team Lloyd Irvin have that two men who left
an unconscious and injured girl in a parking garage after having their
way with her repeatedly come back to the "fighter house" full of Team
Lloyd Irvin "medal chasers" and brag about it, showing cell phone
video to at least one student? And no one reported anything or
checked on the girl?

The details of Lloyd's own case are horrific. They are detailed in
reports of the trials available on the internet from the time it
happened. The simple facts are everyone else involved went to prison
for the gang rape of a 17 year old girl, 3 or 4 separate juries were
beyond reasonable doubt to convict for rape, but Lloyd was spared
that fate because he said he could not penetrate her due to momentary
impotence and the jury did not feel it could be 100% sure she could
positively identify him due to the fact she was being held down and
forcibly orally sodomized at the time. When they asked the judge if
there was a lesser charge he could be convicted of the judge said no.
It appears, from his own defense, that he got off on a technicality
despite his own admitted intent to participate.

When this information was uncovered Lloyd didn't make a statement
saying: I'm very sorry for my past actions, he tried to bury it with
SEO tactics and his high level blackbelts started victim blaming,
calling the victim of that rape a "dirty whore" who "had a train run
on her" and "got to feeling guilty." That was Phil Proctor. When the
highest profile TLI student in BJJ, Keenan Cornelius's sister asked
him about it on facebook, Marcus Avellan attacked her and Keenan's
father, calling them ungrateful and unethical.

Then more connections with sexual misdeeds and those that commit them
came to light. Lloyd's Sombo coach was convicted in 2005 of raping
his adopted sons.

Something is deeply wrong in Lloyd Irvin's team. Lloyd himself has
shown the opposite of the philosophy of Brazilian jiu jitsu and the
martial arts, principles of responsibility, honor, respect, honesty,
and responsible use of power.

That's not hatred. That's calling someone to account for their own self-inflicted damage."

An open letter to Lloyd and Luca.

Dear Lloyd and Luca,

Lloyd's apologia begins as follows, and my responses in bold:

"I first want to apologize.
I want to apologize
to my mother,
to my father,
to my wife
to my son for my silence.
The public taunting & harassing phone calls you have received are undeserved and my recent silence is partly to blame.
I have in fact made statements in the local news
but those statements have not reached everyone
in our BJJ & MMA family and this is the reason my silence ends today..."

Why the fuck
do you write
as if you were an eighth grader
imitating Ogden Nash
your first poetry contest?
Would this not have been more powerful
if written 
haiku form?

And how fucking sad that you frame your complaint as an apology... you adopt this veil of humility and regret but really, you're just whining about people not understanding you!  Yes, I agree, it's wrong for people to harass your relatives-- it's not their fault.  But really, Lloyd, people aren't complaining about your silence about Nick and Mateo!  Yes yes we all know you deplored their actions and vowed to support your student/survivor in that first media comment.  THAT'S NOT THE SILENCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.  (Sorry for shouting, seems like you're just not hearing us.)  It's the silence about your own past, and about the comments of your students like Marcus Avellan and Phil Proctor, and about your tactless and opportunistic purchase of that bothers me the most.

"One of my biggest priorities in these past couple of weeks has been to express to her my sincere and deepest apology. And that too is what this letter is about.
I want to publicly apologize to her for me not knowing, not sensing, and not having the awareness to know that this was even possible."

Straw man bullshit.  No one expects you to have known or sensed this.  You're not a mind-reader.  And of course you had the awareness that this was possible... you teach RAPE PREVENTION.  You're just falling on a nonexistent sword to appease the masses with how wonderful you are, how sincere, how sympathetic.

"It has been reported that a video (as of the time I am releasing this letter, I have not seen the video nor has the case been resolved) that was described in the recent court documents shows that this was a deplorable and disgraceful act committed by two individuals who acted OUTSIDE the code of honor of our team, NOT within it."

First of all, that video is not ever going to be released until it becomes evidence admitted in court and thus part of public record.  If those boys take a plea, it may never be admitted as evidence and we may never see it.  Second, to make such a big deal of the guys acting "outside the code of honor" is just your attempt to avoid future civil liability for the actions of your employees.  Since I'm not a personal liability or employment law specialist, I'll leave the legal analysis of such possibilities to them.

"One of the accused had been with me for barely a month and the other for a total time of barely seven months..."

Can anyone verify or confirm this?

"This young woman who needs my support, my team’s support and your support should be the ONLY thing we are talking about, thinking about & praying about right now but unfortunately as you know I have become a significant portion of this discussion for something that happened in 1989."

I disagree.  Yes, she's obviously important, but aside from our prayers, there's nothing we can do to help her.  Talking about an anonymous survivor makes no sense and isn't going to assist her healing process.  But-- talking about Lloyd's actions and Lloyd's choices?  That is an interesting and productive pursuit, one which I am sure you wish we'd just give up.  Because you're obviously planning on staying active in the community.  What kind of character has he displayed?  Sure, he's created a business empire and coached a number of talented individuals to high honors.  He's taught in a martial arts academy and been paid to do so.  He's also participated in the gang rape of a 17 year old, granted twenty years ago.  What do we know about his rehabilitation, if any?  What do any of the readers of this blog really know about the rehabilitation of sex offenders?  

"From this point forward I anticipate that
anything I say will be ripped apart and shredded by those who either have an axe to grind,
aren’t focused on prevention of violence/rape against women or even may simply not care about the truth."

Haha, none of those sobriquets apply to me.  I have no axe to grind, I've been a rape crisis/domestic violence counselor since 1993-1994, and as a survivor of sexual assault, a prosecutor, and a woman in the BJJ community, I care very much about the truth.  What a shoddy attempt to demonize your critics!

"The truth is that nobody knows much of the real story of New Years Eve 2012 nor the incident of 1989 at all."

Haha again... actually, at least three people know the real story of NYE 2012 (but that's not what we're here to discuss.)  And MANY more know the real story of the "incident" of 1989-- more accurately, the "gang rape" of 1989.    Let's see-- the survivor, the other men who participated, not to mention the juries and the prosecutors and the police involved.  They all know at least a good chunk of what happened.

"What I am about to share with you IS an eyewitness account of what REALLY happened 23 years ago."

Ooh, the first time I read this, I thought-- dang, this is why your lawyers wanted you to shut up.  But of course now we all know you did NOT share anything remotely like an eyewitness account.  So, your lawyers had nothing to worry about.

"I’m not saying this to excuse my choices and decisions, as that’s simply not possible.
I am saying my life and my foundation was different as an uncertain 20 year old than it is now as a father, husband and mentor at 43."

Lloyd, I'm 40.  I'm a wife, struggling to be a mother, and in some ways I think I am a mentor as well.  I'm not cut out for a future in politics, as I definitely made my share of bad choices.  But I will NOT attempt to downplay my decisions as a 20 year old as being completely irrelevant to understanding my character.  My foundation remains the same.  People change how they choose to act, but they don't change what's inside their heart.  If you don't understand that what you did at 20 was wrong, now as a 43 year old father/husband/mentor, then your heart has not changed.  And I'm not hearing anything from you that owns up to wrongdoing.  I hear a lot of "I'm telling the truth, which I told then, and I did not rape her, I did not have sex with her."  In other words, you're still defending yourself.  You're still insisting you did nothing wrong.  So yay for you, you may have chosen to act like an upstanding person ever since... but sometimes your heart still snags control of the steering wheel.  Your passionate plea for "understanding" reveals that you still don't think you deserve any moral blame for that gang rape in 1989.  So sad.

"I told the truth 23 years ago
to my mother
to my father and
under oath in a court of law and I’m telling the truth today.
I’m telling you the same thing I told the jury and the truth that is STILL on record."

I believe I read that you testified (truthfully, we are told) that you wanted to have sex with that girl and you tried to have sex with her but you couldn't get an erection.  That truth is hardly flattering to your character and soul. 

"I did NOT rape nor have sex with ANYONE involved in the 1989 incident cannot and should not be brushed under the carpet.
I told the 100% unadulterated truth, just as I’m sharing with you right now.
I did NOT “get off on a technicality” as some want to say.
Please understand...
Before my trial in 1989 I was offered a plea bargain for “lesser time”..."

Um, you want a cookie because you couldn't get it up?  I think you deserve our moral outrage because you WANTED to rape her.  And you don't even get that you weren't going to have "sex" with her.  It was RAPE.

And by the way-- what no one seems to realize is that, with multiple codefendants, there are ALMOST ALWAYS multiple trials.  Defendants want to be able to blame each other, you see.  So it's not like there was ONE trial of all these guys.  SEVERAL juries heard the evidence.  This girl had to get up and testify against you rapists not once, but several times.  Several different defense lawyers got to cross examine her and come up with random theories of why it wasn't rape.  I'm SURE the "running a train" theory aka "she's a dirty whore who wanted it" story came up several times.  And several juries rejected it.  

I said “no, no dad I didn’t rape her, I didn’t.” And with that he said...
“then you will not say you did.”

Number one I'm sorry your dad had to even ask you if you raped her.  I guess that's kind of telling.

Number two, did your dad think to ask whether you wanted to? whether you tried and failed?

"...and as part of that continued changing
will be my deep and sincere
commitment to the woman who needs our support most right now and my promise to spend
the rest of my days doing what I can to
prevent any woman from ever
experiencing anything even remotely similar.
People are often quick to say “actions speak louder than words”... and in this case I have 16 years of publicly visible
actions as a martial artist, as a teacher, a coach,
a husband, a father, a mentor and an advocate...
and in the end while my actions don’t ERASE the past,
those actions DO demonstrate the DIFFERENCE between
the man writing this statement and
the boy who failed to live up to the standards his mother and father set for him."

This is one of the few things he says that strikes me as sincere and honorable.  I don't know how much credit he should get for doing what's right (isn't that the bare minimum we expect of our citizens?) but I know I would have given him a LOT MORE respect if he had ever owned up to his past before being FORCED to by SEO.  But then I think this-- lots of abusers and rapists seem perfectly upstanding to the people around them.  They're always shocked to find out their loved one had another side.  So I guess I'm still uncomfortable with the idea that Lloyd is teaching women (who may have already been assaulted) how to avoid assaults in the future.  That just creeps me the fuck out.  And it totally makes me wonder about most of the men teaching self defense.  How utterly skeevy it would be to find out your teacher was once a rapist himself!!!!!

"please ask yourself to remember the most embarrassing and frightening moment of your entire life and then ask yourself exactly where is it appropriate in EVERY relationship you engage in to bring up that moment/circumstance for the rest of your life.
My wife has known about 1989 since we first met. My closest friends have known for years.
Even some of my enemies have known.
Nothing about this has been hidden."

If it was embarrassing, then you know you did something wrong, which seems to contradict the position you took above.  If it was frightening, it wasn't because you were the victim (imagine how frightened that 17 year old girl was) but because you'd been caught.  If it wasn't hidden, why is the internet on fire talking about it, why isn't it "oh yeah, I knew that." I'm glad you were honest about your past with the people close to you.  I know I would not have taken any rape prevention seminars, self defense classes, or BJJ lessons from you (not that I have) if I had known you were a rapist in thought if not in deed.  How many of your actual students or seminar attendees would feel the same?  so did you hide this information from them for monetary gain?  Of course.

"The long and short of it was this...
The reason I purchased the url was singular.
I didn’t like the tone and tenor of things online
(but still felt I could not speak publicly about anything) and I simply didn’t want someone else in control of
the name my Son and I share in association with
the current or 1989 situation."

You said it more concisely than anyone else could have.  You didn't like what people were saying and you didn't want a search for Lloyd Irvin rape to come up with the facts of the 2012 rape or the 1989 rape.  How convenient to have such a search reveal what an upstanding guy you are.

"In closing,
I want to directly and specifically speak to my brothers and sisters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community. I am sorry, truly sorry for the shadow this casts over our great art, sport and lifestyle that we lead."

I don't think it casts a shadow on BJJ.  People outside of BJJ don't know the difference, all the news reports refer to a martial arts academy, and I don't think it will affect non-BJJ people really.  But within BJJ, we all know it's not BJJ's fault.  Bad apples can be found in any barrel.  

Nowhere in your open letter did you express any regret or apology for what happened to that girl in 1989.

And now, Luca Atalla's open letter. (Ryan Hall created a trend!) Luca apparently speaks for Gracie Mag.  I encourage you to read it and all the comments, which I won't repeat in their entirety here. In short, whatever damage was done to Lloyd's reputation was self-inflicted.   

Lloyd's followers and defenders display a disturbing trend-- arrogance.  Check this one response from "David" about 3/4 down the page:

"It’s really clear…It’s so obviously clear, those who live in glass houses seem to want to do and say everything within their power to insult, degrade and defame someone who is doing more with their life than the rest of us…It’s so obviously transparent and totally tragic…You can talk about a man’s past, karma, and what goes around comes around – whatever – but at the end of the day, 99% of all the critics, those that throw the first stone and those who for whatever emptiness exists in their own lives, love to bring another person down, you cannot deny – He is Lloyd Irvin, and those that comment, the dissenters and all the whining, useless, gossipy finger pointers, remain nobodies…Nothing..Unless you’ve made a positive impact in this life, unless you’ve made any wide impact at all, you remain, giggling girls at a quilting bee who prefer to point fingers while others lead…It’s a fact, face it…It’s just a fact. You’re talking about HIM, while nobody is talking about YOU…Sleep with that…Live with that…Remember that before the next stupid word comes out of your mouth…Dogs always make a lot of noise and that is their nature…Pity that no dog beyond Lassie is worthy of note…Or is the answer simply obvious? Anybody with the stupidity to further comment on my point, has proven my point…It’s that simple. Go do something with your own life and quit fooling yourself that you’re somehow better by mocking another, so you don’t choke on your own lack of achievement…"

We're talking about Lloyd for bad reasons, not good ones.  He's "achieved" notoriety.  I'd rather be a nobody.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lloyd Irvin breaks his silence...

His open letter to the world, found here.

Let me say, I have some comments to make about replies to my last few posts.  Unfortunately busy at work today, and I have class tonight, so hopefully I get to post those thoughts soon, but maybe not till tomorrow.

In the meantime, you should also read SharkGirl's "Top Ten MLK Quotes In Light of the DC Rape" post.

Read Lloyd's post and share what you think.  I'll tell you what I think in a little while.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rapes by teammates unfortunately more common than you think....

I am very sorry to say, a number of women have shared stories with me about how they were raped by their BJJ training partners.  I believe this is to be expected, because for one, rape is common.  Of course, it SHOULD be less frequent in the BJJ community than it is in the "real" world-- but perhaps that is wishful thinking. 

For another, I do think the BJJ community is a fundamentally male-oriented group, with roots in a fairly misogynistic era and society, that is struggling to find ways to include women.  Before you jump all over me about the misogynistic roots of BJJ, I think I read that very few women in the Gracie family trained BJJ.  I believe Kyra's mother Flavia trained, but Kyra is the only blackbelt in that family.  I know, I know, there's a ton of really talented Brazilian women in jiu jitsu now... but even so, they're a small fraction compared to the number of men who train and compete.  In any case, I think that part of the problem is that some men really didn't even GET that they were committing rape.  And that kind of ignorance is sadly more common in the predominant demographic of many jiu jitsu academies-- young men.  I'm not making excuses, it's still morally bankrupt-- but it's sometimes just sheer stupid thoughtlessness as opposed to malice.  If I had a nickel for every time a guy has said to me "If she's really drunk and coming on to you [or doesn't say no] and passes out, then it's not rape", I'd be a rich woman.  And I think that kind of attitude is a misogynistic one.

Anyway, I'm sharing with you one of these ladies' experiences, with her approval, in the hopes it may help someone else.  She wrote this herself and asked only that I not share her name.

"Three years ago, Halloween of 2009, I was invited by a teammate to his house party. I had only been training for a few months at this point and thought it was a good way to hang out with some of the guys. At the party, I ran into a couple other teammates, ended up having a fantastic time. Naturally, I drank, took shots, the whole shabang. At the end of the night, I was drunk... I also ended up driving. One of the guys I was hanging out with needed a ride home b/c he was stranded - his ride ditched him. He was also a teammate, so I didn't think anything of it. I drunkenly drove him home, I don't know how. This was probably the worst night of my life. I could have just as easily killed myself that night driving under the influence.

We arrive at his place in one piece, and he invites me in to crash because I was clearly drunk. The rest of this night is in bits and pieces. I remember laying on his bed passing out, I remember him getting a condom, I remember myself saying "no, no, no." I remember him pulling my stockings and underwear down as I was too helpless to stop him. At this point, I passed out. I don't remember the penetration, I just remember that it happened. I woke up in the morning, horrified. He was passed out next to me in his underwear. I had such a feeling of guilt and shame that I bolted, as I was also late for work. I saw him Monday afternoon, at training. He had the nerve to ask me, "Did you make it home okay?"

The thing is, for a long time I had to question myself. I felt blame, I felt ashamed, I felt like a piece of trash. Was it my fault? Was I dressed like a slut (I was actually wearing something past my knees, not exposing cleavage)? Did I imagine myself saying no? Did I really want it? Did it really happen? The last question... Was I raped? Until the DC rape happened, and until I talked to Georgette about it, I still felt ashamed, and felt like it was my fault. I have not confronted my rapist, nor do I think I ever will. I had seem him from time to time, and even had to train with him. I had told a trusted "friend" what happened that night, only to hear he was telling other guys at the gym that I "drunkenly had sex" with the teammate. Way to go, team!"

I hope any survivors of sexual assault reading this who harbor their own flavor of self-blame will let it go and realize it wasn't their fault either...

One more interesting tidbit:  here's the Fightworks Podcast post on Ryan Hall's departure from TLI some 4 years ago.  Have you read Ryan's open letter yet? 

Banning? stripping titles? and future background checks?

What do you think would be appropriate?

  • Requiring a criminal history and background check before a blackbelt is given?  (what group, agency or body could require this?  is there any one group that "authenticates" or formalizes black belt ranking?)  Perhaps we could get the "big name schools" (ie Gracie Barra, Gracie Humaita, Alliance etc) to voluntarily agree to this?
  • Requiring a criminal history free of felonies, or felonies involving violent crime, to be a registered coach bringing competitors to IBJJF tourneys? to be a competitor in IBJJF tourneys?
  • Stripping Nick and Mateo's belt rank? medals and titles from IBJJF?  (upon conviction of course)
  • In the future-- if you have a felony, or a felony involving violence-- your prior medals and titles will be taken back?
  • [insert your idea here.]

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One of Lloyd Irvin's defenders on Sherdog--

While wading through 70+ pages on a TLI rape thread... I was repeatedly annoyed by posts attacking the victim made by EpicBeardMan (by now he's been banned) who seemed to be a troll.  But someone found he'd posted two years previously on the topic of rolling with women, so he might just have been honestly that misogynistic..

Check out what EpicBeardMan wrote two years ago, found  here:
"I'm just the opposite. I LOVE doing it! What other circumstance will you get a chance to choke a legitimately resisting cute chick who doesn't want to be choked; without going to jail?

I mean you can do it in the bedroom occasionally if you find the right chick. But they're into it, and actually enjoy the feeling of being choked, so it's not the same."

10 tips to prevent rape...

One of the few truly useful things I've seen on Sherdog:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Followup to recent comments...

Wow, some great comments both here and on facebook regarding these issues.  Too much to handle in just the comment section so here I am.

If anyone out there has any contact with the survivors (either of Lloyd's rape, or Nick and Matt's) I hope you'll tell them there are LOTS of prayers and wishes for health coming their way.  I for one think NEITHER of them is a whore, dirty or otherwise.  And I hope they heal and rise up stronger than ever.

I'd like to call to your attention Ryan Hall's recent open letter to the martial arts community.  It can be found here.  It's long, a little rambling, but well worth the read.  It's an impressive analysis of Ryan's roots in martial arts and his perspective on the cultism in the BJJ community.

Also, a little heads up, I'm assisting with an effort to create a nonprofit group in the wake of this disaster.  We haven't sorted out who-all will be on the board... exactly what we're doing... but we do know (so far) that it will be designed to help survivors of sexual assault (and possibly domestic violence) in some unique way that isn't being done now... probably involving BJJ and/or self-defense instruction.  Feel free to make suggestions to help and if you want to offer your time or expertise, that would be great!

I somewhat regret my snippish tag ending to yesterday's post about punching all men in the head.  Uncalled for, because I wasn't entirely serious, and it was a flippant end to a very very serious, sincere post.  Clearly I do NOT mean punching anyone is appropriate, or that all men deserve my righteous wrath, or anything like that.  I guess I was just cloaking my frustration in a little bit of goofy, seeking a chuckle or something.  No, JC, I don't want to punch you in the head. 

And I don't seriously think men are beasts. Most animals don't rape, so to insinuate a rapist is a beast is to flatter him.  I definitely respect, admire, and love lots of men including my husband.  90% of my friends are men and not just because of jiu jitsu either-- I have always had lots of guy friends.  So I know men and I like men.

Megan, I couldn't agree more.  I didn't make a complete list of all the similar types of comments I've heard-- but you concisely boiled it down to equating violating a woman's body with a property crime. I'm interested in more reflections along this line.

Regarding Lloyd Irvin's SEO mania... I was shocked and disgusted that Lloyd Irvin reserved for his rape prevention seminar promotions after the arrests.  Wow.  So totally uncool.  I have actually advised a number of people who are interested in putting together self-defense seminars but have been hesitant to mention this event in their promotions for fear of looking like they're trying to profit off the horribleness.  I think if you're not personally profiting from such a seminar, you should ABSOLUTELY put them on.... just donate the proceeds to a local or national shelter or rape prevention organization.  And I don't think that was Lloyd's deal.

Anonymous asked, "As a woman, what do you think of the Lloyd Irvin guys who say, it's no big deal. It was 20 years ago, so who cares?

And, do you think the IBJJF should ban Lloyd Irvin from coaching ever again?"

First, anyone, from any team or none, who thinks Lloyd's actions are no big deal because they were twenty years ago is sadly mistaken.  I'm a prosecutor.  I am here to tell you that rapists are VERY difficult to rehabilitate.  So he hasn't been accused of, convicted of, or maybe he hasn't actually raped again... is that because he hasn't been presented with the opportunity?  Isn't it disturbing that he is such a big talker about rape prevention and has never come clean about his past?  I would have SO much more respect for him if he had said before this ever happened "Look, when I was a young college guy, I was stupid, I got involved in a horrible situation without thinking about the poor girl involved, and in the moment I suddenly realized how atrocious it was, and I lost my erection, so I lucked out with an acquittal for rape.  But she was raped, and I played a role in it, a horrible role that I want to atone for.  I will never be able to make it up to her, but I can try to prevent that from happening to someone else.. and here is my best effort."

Fo sho people like Phil Proctor (or even the other, silent blackbelts of TLI-- like Nyjah Easton) would never have found him a "stand up guy" if he'd said that fifteen years ago.  Right?  So Irvin's business scheme would not have the success they brag about now, if he'd been honest.  Right?

I can tell you, it's been twenty one years since MY sexual assault, and it's a big deal no matter how many years has passed.  I have forgiven Jose Manzano but I wouldn't want to train with him if he was the best blackbelt on earth.  I would certainly want to know if my instructor was a rapist twenty years ago.  (And yes, I did do some background checks on my instructors.  As should you of yours.  Especially if you want to feel comfortable referring girlfriends, sisters, moms, kids to train there.)

Now as to whether Lloyd should be allowed to coach again.  I don't have an answer for you yet on that.  I have been thinking a LOT about a petition I want to help write, to have Nick and Matt banned from ever competing in the IBJJF again and to have their titles and medals stripped (and gee, can we strip them of their belt rank too?)  Some people say whoa, let them be convicted first.  I agree.  You'll see why below when I respond to another comment.  I haven't had time to think about Lloyd too yet.  All comments/suggestions welcome of course.

Anonymous, you mention how silly it is (my word not yours) that some feel that once acquitted, a person ought be immunized from any public shame or consequence for their acts.  I couldn't agree more.  No one seemed to say this when OJ Simpson was acquitted-- instead we waited with bated breath for the civil verdict against him and muttered about how the jury was wrong.  Unless Matt and Nick are not convicted because their evil twin brothers actually committed the crime... it seems to me that any acquittal or plea to lesser charges would be a legal nicety resulting from what ordinary civilians think of as a technicality.  I haven't seen the video but I did read the affidavit for the arrest warrant (a sworn document filed in court) which describes what's on it.  Sounds like they ain't no way in HAYELL it wasn't a rape.  So if they get off, I still think they're reprehensible characters (the way I think someone who gets acquitted from a gang rape, because they didn't get it up, is reprehensible.)  And I think it's perfectly acceptable for our community to take a stand.  The only problem with actual policies to institute consequences is you have to be careful about setting a bad precedent, as Candace Stump pointed out to me.  We don't want a snowball effect-- how do you know where to draw the line?  So when it comes to policies like banning from tournaments, stripping medals etc, I'm okay with saving that for people who were convicted.  But Lloyd, acquitted, is still deserving of outrage and indignation, I think.  I'm not sure about running him out of town on a rail, destroying his business and thus harming his family, etc... but shaming wouldn't be out of line.  And his deafening silence IS a problem.

Long post.  Sorry for the novel.  Looking forward to reading your further input.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's not rape culture... or is it?

The big thing lately has been the whole Team Lloyd Irvin rape catastrophe.  I want to put together a numbered list of things and then respond to them generally.

1.  Bad enough a teammate was raped, but there's the quinkydink of Master Lloyd himself having narrowly escaped conviction on his own gang rape charge twenty years ago.

2.  Thanks to a teammate for pointing out to me comments on the internet by one of Lloyd's blackbelts,  "Phil_PROC", as follows:

"Full disclosure:  I am a Lloyd Irvin black belt.

Lloyd is an absolutely brilliant BJJ/MMA coach and business man.  Our team results speak for themselves. . . . Nothing but a standup guy has he ever been to me and the rest of his students.  I've known him for over 15 years.  ... It sounds like the evidence is overwhelming for the 2 lowlifes accused of rape.  They are scum.  They scarred a girl who was a teammate. ...

The trial from 1990 is news to me.  This will sound blunt and maybe offensive, but it sounds like a "train was run" on a dirty whore that got to feeling guilty.  Bad judgment? hell fuck yes.  But not rape.  I know this is a touchy subject and I have daughters too.  ..."

(And then his signature file appended to his post read "The first rule of combatives training: Thou shalt gear up and bang."  Not good.)

Here's Phil Proctor with Lloyd Irvin:

[edited to add: here's the page on the forum where Phil Proctor apologizes to all for his horrible words... well, wait-- he didn't apologize to the RAPE VICTIM...]

3.  I have already heard, from people who are apparently talking to TLI members, that the survivor of the NYE rape by Nick Schultz and Matt Maldonado is reputedly the "team whore" who was recently dumped by, or had dumped, one of her rapists.

4.  I've even heard a former teammate of mine (!!!!!) explain that that lady is partly responsible for her rape because she was intoxicated that night.

5.  And another male friend of mine and fellow jiu jitsu fighter agreed with Phil_PROC up there about the train-running viewpoint.

6.  Remember that 17 year old rape victim who violated a court gag order when she revealed the names of the juvenile rapists after they pled guilty?  I stopped being friends with another former teammate who insisted that she probably wasn't raped because she got drunk at a party, and kept saying the photos the rapists took of her didn't matter, unless there was video of the rape.  (He's semi-on board with the Nick and Matt Assault being a rape, thank God for surveillance cameras.)

First of all--This type of revisionist victim-blaming and shaming is SO typical, it just saddens and appalls me that we're still hearing it.  It's like hearing someone use the N word.  I give myself whiplash with the take-two on that kind of thinking.  What? Seriously??

Second, I don't know Lloyd Irvin, Nick or Matt personally.  So I'm not speaking from any special position of knowledge or experience with them.  Nor do I have access to transcripts or other evidence and factual support from Lloyd Irvin's rape trial, so I don't know how persuasive Lloyd's 17 year old victim was, etc.  I do know that three of the codefendants were convicted of rape... so she couldn't have been terribly incredible by a longshot.  Another good article here includes more of the actual evidence about the 97-pound woman's physical trauma... (My personal opinion is that if you get acquitted of a gang rape that you admit you attended and you did nothing to stop, and only didn't "participate" in the sense that you couldn't get an erection and thus did not penetrate her vagina with your penis... you're a rapist just like the dudes who did get it up.  But that's just me.)

Third, I suspect that Lloyd did not imbue his "medal chaser" team with any "rape culture."  I honestly think it was statistical likelihood that there happened to be a connection like this.  It was just dumb luck that a near-rapist coaches rapists.  No causal relationship.    Some statistics from a really great article you should read:
  • Every 2 minutes someone in the US is raped.  Over 300,000 and possibly as many as 1.3 million US women and girls over 12 y/o are raped a year.
  • Women have a 1 in 5 chance of being raped in their lifetime.  Women in college have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped while there.
  • 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
So I think it's entirely possible that it was sheer statistical likelihood that accidentally, three totally unconnected rapists were in close proximity.  I don't think Lloyd Irvin's past caused the rape of that poor girl this New Year's Eve.  I don't think Lloyd Irvin encouraged anyone on his team to commit rape or even necessarily to view women as objects.  I think it was just blind luck that a rapist coached rapists on a BJJ team.

Fourth, what in bleeding hell is wrong with men that they can attribute any blame to the survivor in these cases?  Don't men get drunk all the time?  My former teammate said he'd kick himself if he left his window open and someone came into his house and stole something while he was gone.  REALLY???  you're analogizing a woman who was raped after getting drunk on NYE (and responsibly choosing not to drive, but relying on friends for a safe ride home) with leaving your window open? Do you really mean if that happened that you would tell the courts not to punish the burglar so much? or that you'd shoulder some of the blame? And trust me, that girl is kicking herself right now... for trusting her friends.  (Not an irresponsible choice, not an unreasonable decision at the time!)  But that's irrelevant.  We always doubt ourselves when we Monday-morning quarterback.  That doesn't mean our decisions were wrong.

The last thing we need is women to feel like they need to dress like nuns, live in lockboxes, and eschew social interaction on par with men.  And even that wouldn't protect them from rape.

Maybe it is rape culture in a broader sense, when perfectly nice-seeming ordinary guys can say with a straight face that
  • She wanted it and regretted it later
  • She was drunk
  • She was promiscuous
  • She dated one of the rapists
... and therefore it's partly her fault.  Therefore he shouldn't be punished as much.  Therefore he's not as responsible.  Why do men so consistently doubt a woman's report of rape? Do they really think women cause rapes because...

Because what?  Men are subhuman creatures unable to control their baser instincts?  Men are beasts, determined to dominate and control and we have to limit their opportunities if we women want to be safe? 

Bunch of crap, I say.

Was I responsible for my sexual assault because I went to bed alone but tipsy (after celebrating the end of sophomore year finals) and had left my window open two inches on a balmy May night?  If my window wasn't open, that asshole who lived in the apartment underneath mine would maybe not have been tempted to come in.  Maybe if I wasn't sleeping so heavily, I would have heard him pull off the window screen, open the window, and rummage around in my kitchen getting a towel to gag me with?  Therefore it was partly my fault?



I trained.

It was cold.  I was two minutes late, according to the clock in the academy, so I was penalized 10 burpees.  My feet actually hurt, they were so cold.

BUT... I trained.

The warmup was short and sweet so I didn't hardly break a sweat.  Darren, the visiting instructor, started under Donald as a whitebelt and has absorbed soooo much of his delightful teaching style and technique, yet makes it his own.  So class, from a content and delivery perspective, was just wonderful... chock full of detail that makes sense, entertainingly explained and memorable... and I had a great drilling partner, a brownbelt guy I've been training with since I was a whitebelt.  And lots of people had big ol' grins and hugs for me.

The actual techniques?
  • Takedown: a snatch single-leg and how to defeat the standard counter
  • Cross side to NS to two armbars
  • NS, the pummel counter to a papercutter
  • NS, they counter your pummel counter, to a shoulderlock

I am so happy to be back.

I think I'm a sucker for positive reinforcement, and I got a little bit last night.  Makes me want more.

So I'm going back tonight.  Thanks, peeps, for the encouragement.  I'm sure I'll need it again and often. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm a lazy ass.

Well, I meant to get on the mats Monday night, but failed.  I started coughing and didn't want to share [and I was tired, it was my first day doing my crossfit-esque class at noon, and was feeling comfortable at home in my fleece lounge pants and pullover, on the couch, and when you've been home from work a few hours, who wants to get back up and out the door at 7:40pm?]

And then last night, I was working later than I expected on a deadline due today at work.  [And, it was damn cold out for a softie-transplanted-Southerner like me, all the way down to 38 degrees, and our academy doesn't have heat, and I was being a big weenie, worrying I would pull a muscle because it was so cold.  And I worried that since I hadn't shaved my legs since that morning, the stubble on my shins might slice open someone's hand if they grabbed my leg, kind of like a shark's skin is said to do.  So in the interests of protecting my teammates...]

So I am officially stating for all and sundry right now... I am going to class tonight, regardless of temperature.  In fact, since I'm herding cats teaching kids' karate this evening, I won't even change out of my gi when I get home.  I will just keep it on to maintain my forward momentum to go to class.  [Maybe I should even leave the garage door open? and keep the car running? to minimize excuse-laden opportunities?]

Srsly, what is WRONG with me that I have to shake myself this hard to get my ass on the mats?  What am I afraid of?

  1. I'm afraid of being out of shape and having thus become that fat, old lady.  I'm afraid that I will get super tired just during the warmup. [Though I'm only 40 and it's really not old, and there are many older than I am.  I recognize I will never get back INTO shape unless I go through the process while out of shape.  It's simple math.  The only way out is THROUGH.]
  2. I'm afraid I will suck.  [But I sucked before, too.  And it's not like only people who already know everything are allowed in class.  And it's not like anyone else has any expectations of what I can or should do, besides myself.  No one probably even remembers much about my game, so if I come back not executing as well then no one will know.  And if they do, they'll also know I have been out of it for a while, and they'll be kind and supportive.]
  3. I'm afraid that I have missed too much stuff that will never get taught again, and so I have permanently screwed myself because I'll never ever catch up.  I'll always be missing this crucial stuff.  [But this makes no sense, because stuff always gets retaught.  No one ever learns it all perfectly on the first go-round.  And the only way to remedy this is to get back into class, because the longer I stay out the more I miss.   And the more I miss, the more behind I am.  See #1 above.]
  4. I'm afraid that people are going to laugh at me behind my back.  [Actually, I know that my teammates are kind people who wouldn't do this.  And even if they were predisposed to it, I'm hardly wearing a target on my back; I've never been the one to shoot for to make a name for yourself.  If anything I might become a learning lesson; I hope I can be another person who came back after a long layover and kept on training.  No one ever really cares whether you came back to become a world champion-- they just care that you came back and kept on keepin' on.]
Thanks for listening.  :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dinner tonight... salmon.


This delightfully different champagne-pink sauce has a tangy, sweet, and spicy balance that pairs perfectly with the rich salmon.  One of my new year's resolutions is to eat fish at least once a week.  And I love salmon... plus this is a gluten-free, dairy-free recipe.  Serve it with rice or quinoa and maybe some steamed spinach or broccoli.  Serves 4.

4 skinless salmon fillets (5 to 6 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
2 ruby red grapefruits
2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbs. minced shallot
1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
2-1/2 tsp. honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the salmon with the salt, place in a baking dish, and roast until cooked to taste, about 10-18 minutes (depending how rare you like it, all the way to fully-cooked).

While the salmon is cooking, prepare the sauce. Cut one of the grapefruits into sections by cutting off the top and bottom of the fruit, then standing it on one end and cutting down the skin to remove the woolly white pith and peel. Then, with a paring knife, remove each segment of fruit from its membrane and cut the segments in half. Set the segments aside. Juice the other grapefruit and set the juice aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, grapefruit juice, honey, and cayenne and bring to simmer. Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Right before serving, toss the grapefruit pieces and basil into the sauce.

Place the salmon on a serving dish, spoon the sauce over it, and serve.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Friday's open mat

I am back on the mats!

I was hemming and hawing about whether I was sufficiently over my cold to train again, when I connected with Kyle, a buddy of Chris's.  Chris blogs at Rolling Uphill and trains at a Dave Camarillo school in Minnesota.  Kyle and his girlfriend Sarah just moved from the Twin Cities to Austin, and he took me up on my invite to check out my academy.  So, I was committed.  Kyle was sore from getting back on the mats the day before after a long layoff, so he just watched me flail during open mat... but it was great to have a reason I couldn't back out last minute.

Lucky for me, turnout was good (7-8 people training) and I had a variety of belt levels from white through brown, and of sizes (from 170-270 lbs) to play with.  It was pleasant weather (upper 60s) and I totally abandoned my usual ego issues.  I tried to present a challenge to my partners, and was happy to foil a sweep attempt and pass guard once... and otherwise managed to roll a little over an hour without beating myself up much.  So it was good stuff.

Went to Dallas over the weekend for some dental work courtesy of my brother-in-law.  I am back at work today, and will be back in my old crossfit-esque lunch class in about 40 minutes.  And, will be back in BJJ tonight.  It's almost like old times!

I will say-- everyone says when they've been off the mats a while, they come back better.  I'm not sure if I did, but at least I believe I've lost all the bits and pieces of stuff that I was trying to learn and incorporate.  All I had available to me was the stuff I really, really knew/remembered.  I felt like I was looking at a closet with 4-5 pieces of clothing in it instead of a packed closet that still offered "nothing" to wear.

And on that Lloyd Irvin deal-- here's a link to the warrant for arrest which describes what's on the surveillance video.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Two BJJ guys caught raping woman on video...

I know, more than anyone, that you're innocent until proven guilty... but my husband just brought this awful story to my attention.

Apparently two Lloyd Irvin guys in DC raped a woman in a parking garage on New Years... and were caught on surveillance camera video....  She was so drunk, when they didn't adequately support her, she fell to the concrete and was knocked out.

Here's the article in the Washington Times.

And here's the ABC coverage.

She wasn't just any woman, either.  She was another jiu jitsu fighter.  A teammate.  She was their teammate!!!  She was too drunk to drive home, and they told her they'd give her a ride to her instructor's home.  (Presumably Lloyd's.)

I want to throw up.  Those assholes.  Apparently you can't necessarily trust even your own teammates.

Edited to add:  from what I can tell, Nick (one of the perps) is a Texas guy.  I think he fought my teammate Travis Orr at a Houston tourney a year or two ago.

Too much rain.

Actually, since we never get rain and have had a drought for two years, the title's not quite accurate... but last night there was just too much rain for me to even go watch class.  I was still coughing up junk, and we don't have a heated academy, so with the temps around 50 and all the rain steadily coming down, I decided the last thing I needed was to get sicker.

Today I receive my first two doses of a medication called Humira which suppresses a part of my haywire immune system.  I'm excited to get started on that, it brings me one step closer to the embryo transfer we hope for this spring sometime.  The medication is very expensive and not covered by insurance ($2500 for two shots, and I might need four!)  I don't think it will affect anything as far as training goes though.  I just hope this cold goes away soon because I want to start training again.  At least I made it into the regular gym yesterday, and dumb as this sounds-- I was very proud I made it through the whole class doing every exercise.  It's dumb because way back when, when I was training 2-3x a day, the noon class at the gym was just me barely breaking a sweat, just to keep burning calories and staying active.  Now I really wonder if turning 40 made that much of a difference-- because I feel like an old slouch!  But I do tell myself, it's just that you haven't been training much at all in a year, and you've been on all kinds of meds with serious effects on your body, several surgeries... so just give yourself some grace!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

When to start training again after being sick.

I really appreciate the kind words of support and encouragement, folks.  I really do.  Murphy's law, the cold I was valiantly fighting off in Virginia overcame my defenses almost as soon as I got off the plane in Texas.  I spent all of last week working from home in an effort not to be Typhoid Mary at the office and the gym.  I even took yesterday off.  But I'm back in the office today, and I plan on hitting the gym at noon.  AND, I plan on watching class tonight if I don't actually participate.

So that's my question to you-- when you've been sick, how do you decide when it's okay to get back on the mats?  When I was obsessed (in my previous jiu jitsu life) I would train as soon as I could breathe through my nose again-- even if I was still "a little sick"-- not because I didn't care about my teammates but because I convinced myself I wasn't contagious any more, and I was dying to get back to my friends, my support network, my fun.  But now I'm torn-- I want to train because I said I would, dammit, and because even my couch and my kindle are losing a bit of their luster, and because my husband is going back to his academy tonight so what do I get out of sitting around the house?  But I also want to be nice-- and while I can totally breathe through my nose, I have an annoying "hrm, hrm" kind of throat-clearing going on too repeatedly to hide or ignore.

So what say you, my friends?  I can go in streetclothes and sit on the side and just watch (and enjoy the welcome-back smiles sans hugs) or I can go in a gi and take meds before class and do my best not to clear my throat much.