Olympian brothers sued for sexual assault
Two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez and his older brother and longtime coach, Jean, are being sued for sexual assault and negligence in separate federal lawsuits.
The lawsuits, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and first reported by the Houston Chronicle, each ask for unspecified damages. Steven Lopez is being sued by Amber Means Randall, who accuses him of drugging and raping her. Jean Lopez is being sued by Heidi Gilbert, who alleges that Jean Lopez sexually assaulted her during a meet in Germany.
The lawsuits are filed in Colorado because it is the home of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where both brothers trained and/or coached. They are accused of neglect for not providing a “duty of care” as either a coach (Jean Lopez) or teammate and coach (Steven Lopez).
The lawsuits come as both brothers are the subject of sexual misconduct investigations by the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The center declared Jean Lopez permanently ineligible this month after finding he had committed violations of sexual misconduct and sexual misconduct involving a minor. He is appealing the decision.
On April 4, after USA TODAY Sports reported Jean Lopez’s sanction, SafeSport made public that Steven Lopez was subject to interim restrictions that had been in place since June 19.
It’s not clear what those restrictions were. Lopez competed in the world championships in late June and this year in the U.S. Open and national team trials, where he made his 24th national team.
The center received the cases against the brothers when it opened in March 2017 from Donald Alperstein, an attorney USA Taekwondo hired in 2015 to look into misconduct allegations.
Jean and Steven Lopez each denied any wrongdoing in separate interviews in June with USA TODAY Sports. Neither of the Lopezes nor their lawyer has responded to repeated requests for comment in the past month by USA TODAY Sports.
Steven Lopez, 39, is taekwondo’s biggest star, winning Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004 as well as five world championships throughout his career. He told the Houston Chronicleearlier this year that he planned to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Jean has coached Steven throughout his career as well as younger siblings Diana and Mark, who also won medals at the Beijing Games.
Jean, 44, was coach of the U.S. team at four Olympics.
USA TODAY Sports reported in June that four women had accused the brothers of sexual misconduct. Gilbert and another woman who declined to be named alleged assaults by Jean Lopez. USA TODAY Sports does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault who have not gone public.
Mandy Meloon accused both Lopez brothers of assault. A fourth woman, who has now come forward to be identified as Means Randall, said Steven Lopez raped her after she had been drugged.
In banning Jean Lopez this month, SafeSport cited abuse of three women – Gilbert, Meloon and a third woman who has not come forward publicly.
Gilbert told USA TODAY Sports that after a 2003 tournament in Germany, she was given a drink by Jean Lopez. She soon began to feel woozy, and Lopez said he would take her back to her hotel. Gilbert said he began molesting her in the cab, and then sexually assaulted her after they arrived at the hotel.
Means Randall, a former member of the junior national team, told USA TODAY Sports in June that she was drugged three times, and that Steven Lopez sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious on one of those occasions.