Thursday, June 27, 2013

When an instructor in your own backyard is a criminal....

I have lots of BJJ friends.  By this I often mean people I don't know well at all, but I am friendly with, because I figure anyone who loves BJJ can't be all bad.  People I may only know briefly in real life, if at all, or people halfway around  the world that I have never met.  I still call them friends because I'll be anyone's friend until proven otherwise or given reason not to.

I had a friend in town (a few years ago) who was a BJJ guy with a purple belt.  His name is Paul Saucido.  He moved to California to work for Rigan Machado and help with administrative duties at Rigan's academy.  Last year he moved back to Austin as a brown belt and started his own academy, Zen Jiu Jitsu, as a Rigan affiliate.  Haven't seen him since he got back into town, but I considered him a friend.  When he started planning a Rigan Machado seminar in Austin, I promoted it here on the blog and with my academy.  All well and good.

But then several people independently brought to my attention that in fact, this friend was accused of rape a few years ago, and had been convicted on a plea bargain of a few lesser charges.  This made me really upset and unhappy.  Aside from the obvious sympathy for the survivor (who was passed out drunk at the time) and distress that I could have been friends with someone who could do that... the other disturbing thing was--

How do I handle this and remain consistent with my principles?

It's not the same as Lloyd's deal, to me.  For one, Paul's done his time, he's on probation now, and will be a registered sex offender for another twelve years.  He's not lying about it, nor is he buying sites.

For a few days I kind of sat on it, pondering.  I emailed with him a bit to verify the essentials (yes, it was him, and yes, he was convicted, and yes, Rigan knows about it.)  Pondered some more.  Was on the brink of just letting it go-- not promoting his seminars and not recommending his academy, but kind of shrugging my shoulders because he's trying for a second chance and everyone deserves to be able to make a living.

BUT...  today I realized I was doing a disservice to the ladies who might consider taking jiu jitsu at his academy.  How lame would it be as a rape survivor to be taking self defense from a rapist without even realizing it?  Unbelievable.  Unacceptable.

So don't blabber at me about "but he wasn't convicted of RAPE, he pled to indecent exposure and unlawful restraint!"  Because I am a prosecutor and I know how plea bargains work.  You often plead down cases that are strong enough, on the evidence, to win the higher charge if it goes to trial.  Why?  To spare the survivor, especially in cases like this.  If the survivor is agreeable, that is.  Just because he ended up being nailed for waving his willie and holding her down doesn't mean he didn't stick it in her while she was passed out drunk.

So.  My erstwhile friend, who lives in my town and teaches jiu jitsu in my town, is a rapist, in my eyes.  And I can't get behind that.  I can't support his academy, his seminars, etc.  Sure he deserves a second chance but I don't think he should be teaching jiu jitsu to women who don't know his background.

I'm not taking out ads in the paper, picketing the academy, or passing out flyers.  I'm just taking a stand here, in Austin, as a woman and a jiu jitsu fighter and sexual assault survivor, because I think that's what's right.

Edited to add:  I sent this message privately to Rigan Machado via facebook.  I will post here whatever he replies.

"Professor, I apologize for bringing this up, but I wanted you to be aware of a blog post I wrote recently about your student and representative here in Austin, Paul Saucido. I originally promoted your upcoming seminar on the blog, but then was made aware of his criminal history. I pondered what to do for some time, but I had to take a stand. I hope you agree with me and I hope you will reconsider your support of his academy. Not entirely-- but at least insofar as he is teaching women without their knowing his history. I think it would be an appalling public relations NIGHTMARE for a rape survivor to discover she is being taught self defense/ BJJ by a rapist under your aegis."

Edited to add, on Saturday June 29:  Just received this message from Rigan on Facebook at 12:01pm CT:

"Rigan Machado
Sorry for late response, I have been on the set filming a movie. I will investigate this. Thank you"

Later on, Rigan posted this on his page:


Anonymous said...

Where is your post on SherDog / other forums? You have been most vocal against other alleged rapists and have no problem blasting and degrading them, yet when it hits close to home someone you know you go silent on your blog only and a Facebook message? I find that very hypocritical of you to do so. If your goal is to spread the word then back your words up with action and not against just select people.

Jon said...

Thank you, Georgette. For your strength of character, resolve, and passion about this - all of this - I just want to say Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Major victory. is finally showing up on the first page when searching for lloyd's name. We'll see if the hosts used will survive the legal pressure he puts on them. Would be horrible if it ends up under the same fate as lloydirvinrapeexposed.

Unknown said...

its TERRIBLE he has a school.. this is a travesty and I hope this info gets circulated as much as possible..
He should not have a self defense school..
He should be locked up.. or let him go in a men's program only or something..

Anonymous said...

The guy did his time, is honest about it, and otherwise shows remorse. Get over it and stop being so holier than thou about this. You've never made a mistake? Who are you to judge someone?

I'm a convicted felon who did 2 years in the state pen. Does that mean you wouldn't want to train with me? I guess that would depend on what I did, right? (for the record it was car theft, at 16).

Here's the thing with me, I tell nobody. Why? Because people are judgemental assholes, much like this post. I'm not taking away from what the guy did, but we don't know all the circumstances involved. Maybe he had a horrible lapse of judgement and was intoxicated himself? There are a million variables here to take into consideration rather than jumping to conclusions and judgement.

If you can't support the guy, then don't. But don't mess with the guys livelihood because of a past mistake.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy with the response from Rigan and the other Machado reps, but how can they deny this page on their website, announcing the seminar at Zen?

Anonymous said...
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JJ Garcia said...

Georgette. I feel compelled to comment on your blog. I have known Paul for 6 years now. I train at Zen, and am one of his belted students. Paul is a very dear friend to me, and it saddens me to see your post. While this subject is something we do not like to dwell upon, we do know about it. We look forward into the future, there is no value looking backwards. If you had ever been to one of our classes, you would see that it is conducted professionally with no tolerance for misbehavior. Paul is very professional.

Paul is doing what he loves and you should not try to take this away from him. Even if this is not your intent, the results of your actions are potentially damaging to his livelihood.

The matter you are referring to was an isolated incident, and there is no pattern of this behavior. Paul is fully repentant, and he does everything in his power to live his life in a moral fashion.

You call Paul a friend. This article is not the sort of thing you publish about a friend. How long does it take for forgiveness? Would you have Paul live the rest of his life in the shadows? Would you have him abandon the art that you, he, and I love? He is great teacher and a good man. Should a mistake impact the rest of his life? When can we put this behind us? Paul is open about his past. Jiu Jitsu got him through his hard times and now he teaches other practitioners. He chooses to live his life in the light.

I would have no issue sending my wife to train with Paul!

Georgette said...

I'm glad you are comfortable sending your wife to train with Paul. (Does she?) I believe every person has a right to know whether their instructor is a sex offender and surely you agree-- if you were a rape survivor and sought out BJJ lessons as part of your healing process, and you learned that your teacher was a rapist or some other kind of sex offender, that would be bad, no?

Forgiveness is not mine to give, he did not wrong me. But do I think he should be teaching jiu jitsu? NO, no, no and no. He should NOT be teaching jiu jitsu. Practicing it, maybe. But teaching it, being in a position of authority and influence over others? nope. I can tell you as a sexual assault survivor myself that I would never want to roll or train with a sex offender.

Bobby and Amanda said...

This isn't really a witch-hunt though.

Georgette's not making stuff up about what this guy or anyone else she's blogged about has done. What she's doing is taking facts, analyzing them and then acting on the facts according to her moral compass. It's not anything anyone couldn't or shouldn't be doing themselves.

Would you train with a competent BJJ instructor who was convicted of stealing candy when they were 6? Would you train with a competent instructor who was trashed and raped a girl? Would you train with someone who is a known axe murderer (not Wanderlei, I mean a real one)?

She's just putting facts out there and giving her opinion on it. How you act is up to you.

Unknown said...

Have you read about this Georgette. Its basically splitting the whole of Gracie Barra in Canada. Its gone right to the top (carlos gracie jr) and guess who also conducted seminars at the instructors school last year, your old friend Luca Atalla.

Unknown said...

The case in Vancouver is really shocking as its known about all the way through Gracie Barra right to the very top. This guy stills runs there biggest school in Canada and is a monster. All other GB brown and black belts in British Columbia are closing down there schools and pulling out of GB in protest. I got this all from a solid brown belt close to the club's involved.
Its disgusting that he is still teaching everyday and i even heard at the weekend he had a roid rage attack on an old student (female) who left the club. It was all over facebook. Yet still Gracie Barra let him continue to run one of there biggest schools in the world. Gracie Barra only cares about money- so sad.

Anonymous said...

Since when has a crime, a violent crime, a violent sexual crime, become a "mistake?" Is this a sign of the "sorry, my bad" generation at work? A typo is a mistake. Putting your hand on the mat while in the guard is a mistake. Misjudging a stoplight is a mistake. Let's just use the word accident in place of crime while we're at it.

And for the person who was charged and convicted as an adult at 16 for car theft: it sounds like there is more to that story than a car theft.

As for this having been an isolated incident (if that even matters): how does anyone know that? Was this an "accident" a "mistake" or a sign of a character flaw?

People talk about moving on but that doesn't mean you abandon your baggage along the way. Moving on doesn't mean leaving behind. Ask a survivor and she'll tell you that you take "it" with you everywhere you go.

Justice for all. said...

Back in the day a person with a Black Belt, which Paul Saucido has, would be considered by police to be just as dangerous to the public as a person with a firearm. And they had to register themselves with local police as well. If a person commits a sexual related crime they can no longer own a firearm or be anywhere near them. So why has this rapist been allowed to not only continue to study martial arts, BJJ, but open a school as well. I spoke to him once with a humanitarian request only to get the brush off. He's really into money, movie fame and women as part of the macho personna. Where is the justice?