Sunday, July 20, 2008

Judo, honesty, courage, lies and USA Judo

I used to joke with my friends in karate that judo was an honest sport. You always hear people in karate say,
"Oh, I could have pulled your heart out through your left nostril right then but I pulled my punch."

I told them that in judo, if you could throw, choke, pin or armbar the other person, you did it. There is no,

"You hit him too hard and knocked him out, you are disqualified."

In judo, the unconscious person loses.

I may have to take back what I said. Even though I try very hard to teach young people to be honest, to show courage, it appears that USA Judo is the exact opposite.

A while back, my daughter posted about the affidavits alleging that Fletcher Thornton, a member of USA Judo had molested female athletes from 12-16 years of age. You can read some of the posts and accompanying public commentary on the judo info site under

Judo News

and

You can even see a picture of the alleged child molester
in case, like any normal parent, you want to keep your child away from people who have had multiple affidavits filed saying that they molested children.

Now USA Judo has posted a statement on its website saying all of these allegations were investigated in 1983. I know this is a lie because I wrote a complaint in 2005 and a friend of mine wrote another complaint, also in 2005. Below is the letter I faxed to the Olympic committee today.


===================================

Date: July 20, 2008
To: United States Olympic Committee
From: AnnMaria Rousey De Mars
Subject: False statement by USA Judo Regarding Alleged Child Molester Fletcher Thornton

Let me state unequivocally that the statement issued by USA Judo regarding Fletcher Thornton is FALSE.
Complaints were made in 2005 by both me and by a young woman who was sexually abused as a minor female athlete. NEITHER of us were EVER notified of any hearing that occurred in 1982 or 1983. How we could appear as witnesses when neither of us were notified that a hearing occurred is baffling to me. I won the Senior Nationals in 1983. The young woman who wrote the 2005 complaint that she was molested by Fletcher was at the same event. Neither of us were among the original complainants nor were we even aware at that time that a hearing had occurred nor any investigation. If anyone had wanted to ask either of us about these events at either the U.S. Open or the Senior Nationals we were there. Anyone could have found us on the medal stand.
I filed a complaint of sexual harassment. The other young woman filed a complaint of sexual abuse occurring when she was 16. I am one of her witnesses as I had heard about it at the time at the junior nationals. There are other witnesses to similar events as those reported in the affidavits in the 1980s who were provided alcohol by Fletcher when they were under age. They were not notified either.

There is no evidence to show that I, nor the woman whose 2005 affidavit your attorney has, were ever notified a hearing occurred. I would have gone as her witness, had I been notified. There were others who would have gone as witnesses, had they been notified. All of us are willing to state under oath that we NEVER were told that an investigation was occurring or had occurred. I had no knowledge about this until I received the affidavits in the mail from an anonymous source in 2004 and I immediately contacted USA Judo.

The USA Judo argument seems to be this:

In the 1980s, some people stated that Fletcher Thornton had sex with them as minor athletes. They did not appear at hearing we held. Therefore, we are not going to hear any more complaints from women who say Fletcher sexually harassed or molested them even if they were not one of the original complainants, did not know a hearing occurred, were never contacted and did not know the findings existed.

I would think that if you had several complaints of sexual abuse at one point, and then later you have an additional person come forward who also states she was sexually abused by the same person, you would take that MORE seriously, not dismiss it.
AnnMaria Rousey De Mars
1982 U.S. Open Gold Medalist and 1983 Senior National Champion
==================

If you are a parent of a judo player or just a member of the public who thinks child molesting charges should be taken very seriously, please feel free to contact the U.S. Olympic Committee. Contact information copied from the Judo Forum is posted below:

"US Olympic Committee
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Main Telephone: 719-866-4837
Fax: 719-632-2884

I also found these two numbers listed as well. (888) 659-8687 or
719.632.5551 "

10 comments:

Ronda said...

you are awesome

Friends of Fletcher said...

Like I said before...for those of you that wish to give your support for Mr. Fletcher Thornton during this difficult time you can contact him at the following address:

Fletcher Thornton
P.O. Box 769 Middletown, CA 94561
Ph: 707.987.9048
Fx: 707.987-9084
E-mail: Herdbound@aol.com


If you can't reach him there try him at the Lake County International Charter School
http://www.lcics.org/ were he voluteers his free time to work at a school with kids under the age of 14.

And if you still can't reach him feel free to stop by the Middletown Town Offices where he is a member of the M.A.T.H. Committee.

Go ahead give him a call, send him an email or a letter at the same time you are contacting the USJA, USJI and USOC. Let him know you are thinking of him. God Bless.

Ice said...

Why has this not been looked at for over 25 years????

How come nothing has been done?

I can't believe I'm paying dues to an organization that is supporting someone that has predatory tendencies and show a complete lack of judgment.

I thought every dan grade had to go through a background check. In fact, it's the very first thing they ask you if you are going to be considered for shodan.

Is this guy still coaching? How can this be? I don't know too much about the national judo scene. I'm mostly a local club guy.

I know all the dojos that I have had the opportunity to practice in, will boot him out of the club immediately.

Just the appearance or the perception of impropriety is usually sufficient cause to bar a person from coaching minors, be it little league, boy scouts, and the like.

This is just sad.

I really hate reading about this, and I thought the USJF/USJA has an expelled member list that warns people if they did inappropriate things?

Anyways, this makes me very sad. It makes me want to look at another sport or something. I've been a dues paying USJF member since 2001.

I love judo, but I don't want to support an organization that lets predators roam free.

What am I supposed to do?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Why is he still coaching? Well, he does not have a coaching credential but he still seems to be around children and even teaching school.

I think the reason is that everyone thinks it is someone else's responsibility. Several victims went to the judo organizations and nothing was done. Each organization wanted the police or the other organization to do something. I think at first the victims did not want to go through having to recount everything in court over and over, they just wanted him away from children.

Now, I think there are a lot of things that can be done. Those of us that have first-hand knowledge can concentrate on helping law enforcement proceedings.

Others can help perhaps by notifying judo clubs, schools and other organizations so that he does not have access to children. We could let USJI know that it is not okay with us.

If he shows up at a tournament, you can take your children and go home. They will learn more from that lesson than from the tournament, I guarantee you.

Nothing is really stopping the judo organizations from acting except cowardice and deals people have made to get to referee at a certain tournament, get on a board, etc.

First, three victims filed affidavits. Nothing was done. It was buried. I didn't find out these affidavits were written until 20 years later.

"If only we had a new complaint. If only someone new would come forward and have the courage to sign a new complaint against Fletcher."

I wrote a new complaint. "Oh it was just sexual harassment with you. You were not sexually abused. If only we had someone who had been sexually abused, a new person who would come forward."

A new person who was sexually abused came forward.

"Oh, if only she hadn't sent it in email. If only she had sent a signed, notarized statement."

She sent a signed, notarized statement.

What can you do? I would say you could contact everyone from the Lake County International Charter School to your state governing body to the USJI, USJA, USOC and anyone else and tell them it is not okay with you. They can maybe ignore a few sexual abuse victims and their friends but I don't think they can ignore 1,000 people who are outraged, morally indignant and refuse to accept that it is all right if we have people on the mat with our kids who have a 30 year history of accusations of child molesting stretching across several states.

I do hope he gets indicted and convicted. Until that time, I don't want him around my own children nor the children I coach.

How about you?

Stephen said...

Talk with someone who has brought claims against the Boy Scouts.

Karl Reichman said...

I am the Director of Lake County International Charter School. If one is going to make comments it would serve everyone if they were accurate and verified.
Mr. Thornton has not and does not volunteer his time at our school to work with children. He has consulted with us on construction issues for an interior renovation we undertook only.
Thank you,
Karl Reichman, Director LCICS

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Judo is about traditions, about heart, and about honor.

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