The recent information that has been unearthed regarding renowned martial arts trainer Lloyd Irvin and two of his students is nothing short of horrific. One such allegation dates back to 1989, and involves Irvin’s role in the gang rape of a 17 year-old woman. The other involves the rape of one of Irvin’s students on New Year’s Eve, as perpetrated by two other students of the Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts School in Washington, D.C. Despite being vehemently pressed for information over the past few weeks, Irvin has remained silent on both cases, instead focusing his attention on the recovery of the female student that was accosted.
That is, until now.
Irvin recently issued a statement in the form of an open letter that addressed both his own involvement in the 1989 case and that of the New Year’s Eve case currently under investigation. In it, Irvin is both understandably apologetic and sincerely candid while describing the circumstances involved in both cases. Not to take anything away from as well respected a member of the MMA community as Irvin, we have placed the entire letter, completely unedited, after the jump. It’s a long read, but ultimately necessary if you want to understand the events from the perspective of at least one of the parties involved.
An Open Letter To From Lloyd Irvin
Regarding The Reported Events Of New Years Eve 2012 &
The Ensuing Conversation About Himself & His Team
During The First Half Of January 2013
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…
I want to apologize to every one of my friends, family and supporters who have suffered threats and degradation in my silence.
I apologize to my team and to everyone who has supported me in these last few weeks. It has been my family and your letters, phone calls, emails and texts have kept me going.
My ongoing support of my student who has suffered immeasurably, has occupied much of my thoughts and time in these past few weeks. And as we have unwaveringly shown her… her team, my family and I are there for her in every way.
She and I have been in consistent contact and she has been back in the gym with us again.
Her strength and resolve in the face of what has happened is truly one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.
I have shared with her my feelings on the matter and both of us are focused and committed to supporting her full recovery and violence prevention for ALL women going forward … I’ll speak to you more about that later in this letter.
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.
My wife keeps saying I couldn’t have known, my mom says I couldn’t have known.
Everyone I’ve confided in said I couldn’t have known, but that doesn’t change my wishing I could have.
They keep saying the same thing over and over…
any reasonable person would understand that you couldn’t have known.
And that may be true but while that’s a convenient position to take,
the truth is I didn’t know and I wish I had.
I will go to my grave wishing someone ELSE from my team would have been there for her that night.
My counselors will have to deal with any fallout from this letter, as they have advised against making this statement but I simply cannot let my friends and family be left to hang in the breeze like this anymore.
I also want to publicly apologize to my team.
Young men and women I love with all my heart and soul.
I wish for YOU that I could have foreseen this and made new years eve not happen.
Please know that no matter what is said about me…
you have been and remain the most honorable, supportive & special people I have ever known… I’m proud to have you represent my school and wear our colors.
I promise you that I will do everything in my power to clear the air so you may have free passage to attain the goals we’ve promised each other we’d attain together.
That all being said, in answer to the question… “Why have I been silent on this?”
To put it simply, my focus has been on my team…
most of all, I have at my school a dear friend, student & team member who’s had an unimaginably horrible experience and
my only desire is to care for, support and help her.
I have promised her that I will do everything in my power to avoid this happening ever again within the influence of my organization/team.
It should be clearly and simply noted…
I nor anyone else on my current team or staff had ANYTHING at all to do with what is reported to have happened New Years Eve.
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.
As for the accusations that I am “fostering” some sort of environment that makes people do horrific things…
One of the accused had been with me for barely a month and the other for a total time of barely seven months…
Anyone who feels that there is some sort of subversive environment being taught and encouraged on our team should realize the level of insult and disrespect they are directing not towards me but the truly honorable athletes and human beings that make up our school… both competitors and non-?competitors alike.
I want to repeat,
my singular concern and effort right now (and much of the reason why I have not spoken to date) is caring for and supporting my teammate and friend who is recovering
In addition my focus is actively engaging as many people and resources as possible to understand more about how these things happen and what if anything we can do to directly impact these situations before they ever happen.
I don’t know much about what, how or why new years eve happened…
I wish I did and I think it unwise to pressure her about all of these details at this point as she’s got enough to deal with.
Certainly as the trial progresses we will all learn more.
All I can say is I feel sadness for the depraved and misguided individuals who would suggest that this is part of what we teach.
It’s an insult to the young women and men on my team who have never behaved in any way other than exemplary. Especially the young woman who most deserves our respect and support.
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.
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.
I don’t expect ANYTHING less.
But its simply unfair to this truly remarkable woman and unfair to the rest of my supporters and team to not tell my side of this story.
The TRUE side of this story.
For those of you who hate me or who have judged me…
what I’m about to say is not for you.
You have passed your judgment and
I don’t expect to be able to undo that but
The truth is that nobody knows much of the real story of New Years Eve 2012 nor the incident of 1989 at all.
This letter is simply for those who have believed in me or at the very least reserved judgment until having more knowledge of the situation.
For those who have and continue to support me this is also so that you know your belief in me was not and is not misplaced.
I also want to add that I’m writing this letter as though I was writing a letter to my son.
The one person I MOST want to understand my position and gain the wisdom I didn’t have.
What I am about to share with you IS an eyewitness account of what REALLY happened 23 years ago.
I’m not going to give you the sugar coated version some have told me to give I’m simply going to tell you the truth, the same truth I told 23 years ago
So for starters…
I was once 20 years old
I did things 20 year olds do… drank too much,
partied too much,
Probably not unlike many 20 year olds,
I made more than my share of dumb choices.
I hadn’t found martial arts yet.
(I was 3 when I took my first martial arts class
but I didn’t make it the cornerstone of my life until 1996 at that time I still hadn’t learned how to be a leader)
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.
Recently some people have decided to believe things about me and the 1989 incident that are absolutely positively untrue….
and this is what I’d like to speak to next…
I cannot control what you believe nor will I try. I can only tell the truth.
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.
The facts are the facts and glossing over the fact that
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.
Before my trial in 1989 I was offered a plea bargain for “lesser time”…
the prosecutors told my father point blank…
“Mr. Irvin we are going to give your son
a lesser penalty if he admits
he is a rapist and if he doesn’t
we will lock him up and put him away for a very long time.”
I talked to my mom and my dad.
I was a kid.
I didn’t know what to do.
Terrified is the only word that comes close.
I’ve never seen my dad cry in my entire life not before and not since… but I remember his breath on my face and his tears in his eyes…
“Son, are you guilty of rape?”
Just the words coming flatly from your father’s mouth … eye to eye
I still tremble today just remembering 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.”
And so like my father taught me from the first time I could walk, I went and told the truth and as a result….
I was not convicted. I was innocent.
It’s the SAME truth I am sharing with you today…
It will be the same thing I will eventually tell my son.
I can only hope that you,
my BJJ and MMA brothers and sisters,
judge me based on this truth of what actually happened 23 years ago. Not what some want to presume, guess or assume happened.
I don’t know that this is necessary and my actions and behavior as well as the actions and behavior of ALL but two of my shortest tenured students should demonstrate this…
But just in case it is necessary I want everyone reading this to know without ANY uncertainty what so ever…
I am 100% against rape, attempted rape or any other form of violence against women. I don’t support it, don’t condone it and don’t enable an environment that would ever have anything to do with it.
Part of me wants to take you point by point bit by bit over the hundreds of hours of testimony and reams of media coverage to demonstrate how little has actually been revealed to date about the night of the incident, actual testimony and the trial.
But revisiting & rehashing every detail from the case 23 years ago would be nothing but selfish on my part (especially a case whose conclusion found me innocent of all charges).
I feel doing that does nothing productive for the BJJ and MMA community I care so much about, nothing productive for the men and women of my team and most of all nothing productive for healing needed for the woman my total focus and support is on right now.
The next most common question I hear
people asking is multiple forms of… “What about now?”
Would I do things differently?
Have I done things differently?
Would I make different choices?
Have I made different choices?
Does this alter how I counsel my son?
Has any of this effected how I counsel my team members in efforts to help them choose the right path?
Absolutely YES to all of it.
I can’t change what’s happened. I wish I was wiser then.
I have been and AM changing what’s happened every moment since.
Especially for these last 16 years …
…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.
I have been posed with two most common questions over these last few weeks.
1) “Why have I hidden this all this time?” Well to be frank…
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.
Which leads to the second question…
2) Why did I buy and put up the website url that I purchased and put rape prevention seminar information on it shortly after all the news broke regarding New Years Eve?
For this I can do nothing other than apologize 100%. I was wrong.
The timing was horrible and I completely dropped the ball.
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.
Beyond that my intention was honorable
but the execution and timing were awful
As everyone can see,
the moment I realized this,, it was taken down…
I have been an ADVOCATE for women for all my life in the martial arts.
The martial arts have been my entire life since 1996
when I finally grew up enough for it to stop being a hobby and it became my life’s foundation.
Anyone who knows me KNOWS this to be 100% TRUE.
And since being told about New Years Eve
my resolve and commitment to doing MORE than I EVER have before
in this area of women’s advocacy against violence has grown RADICALLY.
Bottom line is I am 100% guilty of poor timing and taste when it comes to the url and what was posted.
I spoke to the woman involved new years eve about this and told her my sincere intentions…
I vow to absolutely make rape & violence against women prevention an even more major cornerstone of my future efforts.
Understand that my rape-?prevention program has ALWAYS been completely free, its not a marketing gimmick as some accusers have said.
I didn’t realize it was possible but
I promise you that my sensitivity to rape & violence against women prevention has now been made stronger than ever before.
If there is any good that can come of all of this
it’s the fact that we are all talking more about rape & violence prevention against women, EDUCATION OF MEN and how to create environments and relationships that keep violence from being used off the mat.
If you believe what I’ve shared here,
I thank you for your support and I apologize for taking so long to speak out.
If you don’t believe me,
all I ask is that you spare my wife, my mom, my dad and my son any venom you have towards me.
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.
Many people have their opinions and say what they will about my team and my school and my approach to things.
But one thing nobody can say is that I don’t have a deep passion and commitment to and for our art, sport and our community.
And its with that passion and commitment that I promise every one of you with all my heart and soul that while I would not and did not commit nor encourage nor enable anything that would ever hurt, harm or violate one of my own friends and team members.
I will move heaven and earth to understand what happened and why it happened. And should I discover ANYTHING that can be done to prevent new years eve from happening ever again I promise with the tenacity and commitment I have become known for, I will make any and all necessary changes.
I will spend every waking moment finding ways to make sure everyday from this day forward Team Lloyd Irvin brings enough light back to our community to drown out the darkness of these last few weeks.
On this you have my word.
Lastly, If you really want to know what MY philosophy about my team, my school, my responsibilities as a martial arts instructor and the martial arts REALLY is…
If you want to know what’s happening to ‘the water and the fish in the bowl’…
watch this video…
I AGREE 100% with their thoughts on what I face and every instructor faces going forward when it comes to what we want for our students and what our responsibilities are to our students, our art, our sport and our community.
During the video at 28:26 he says “this has to be a wake up call”… he’s right… it does… and it is… and I promise you
I will make things better for us all or die trying.
My sincere thanks to both of these men for making this video and the honor they bring to our BJJ family.
I sincerely thank you for your time and your attention,
Lloyd Irvin Jr.