A sixth woman has come forward to allege that Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez sexually assaulted her, possibly after she was drugged, according to an article published Saturday by The Daily Beast.
Audrey-Ann LeBlanc, a Canadian taekwondo athlete, told The Daily Beast that Lopez raped her as another man attempted to put his penis in her mouth while in a Dallas hotel in May 2010,
LeBlanc said the alleged incident started after she drank a “blueberry-Gatorade-vodka concoction” that Lopez had handed her. She quickly became incapacitated. He then led her to a room where she met two of his friends.
“He said something like, ‘It’s okay,’ and began to kiss me and pushed me back onto the bed,” she told The Daily Beast.
LeBlanc is the seventh woman to publicly allege that Steven Lopez, a three-time Olympic medalist, or Jean Lopez, his brother and coach, had sexually assaulted her.
The Lopez brothers have denied the allegations against them in the past. In 2017, when USA TODAY Sports first published the accounts of four women, Steven Lopez, now 41, said, “I’ve never — nothing, nothing at all. Nothing like that. Nothing close to that.”
In a separate 2017 interview, Jean Lopez said, “I’ve never been inappropriate with anyone.”
Attorney Howard Jacobs, who represents the brothers, denied all allegations of misconduct against the brothers when reached by USA TODAY Sports on Monday.
Dan Hill, a spokesman for the U.S. Center for SafeSport, said he could not comment on specific cases. But, speaking generally, he said new allegations could cause the center to open a new investigation even against responding parties who have proceeded through arbitration.
The Lopezes have never been charged criminally. The Department of Justice is currently investigating USA Taekwondo and several Olympic national governing bodies for their response to reports of sexual abuse, and the Daily Beast reported that an attorney from the Department of Justice interviewed LeBlanc last month.
Jacobs told USA TODAY Sports that neither of the Lopez brothers has been contacted by the Department of Justice.
Five women sued Steven and Jean Lopez, as well as USA Taekwondo and the U.S. Olympic Committee, in April 2018. (The USOC changed its name to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in June, after this lawsuit was filed.) A federal judge in September dismissed the claims against Jean Lopez, but the lawsuit is proceeding through discovery in the case involving Steven Lopez, USA Taekwondo and the USOPC.
SafeSport banned both Steven and Jean Lopez in 2018 for sexual misconduct involving a minor. SafeSport also found Jean Lopez, 46, responsible of sexual misconduct. Both bans were eventually lifted after the women who had filed the complaints declined to testify in arbitration proceedings.
The women who filed complaints against Jean Lopez are among those who sued the Lopez brothers, and their attorneys did not want them subjected to multiple cross-examinations. Instead, they asked SafeSport to depose the women in connection with the lawsuit, and then use those depositions in the arbitration hearings for the Lopez brothers.
But SafeSport declined to do that, and a three-person panel of arbitrators cited the lack of sworn testimony in lifting Jean Lopez’s ban in January 2019. An arbitrator cited similar reasoning in lifting Steven Lopez’s ban in December 2018 after the woman in that case declined to testify in person.
Despite the arbitrators’ decisions, World Taekwondo kept its preliminary suspensions of both brothers in place, telling USA TODAY Sports in March that “given the nature of the allegations, World Taekwondo believes this decision protects and serves the best interests of the sport, taekwondo athletes and the two individuals concerned.” That decision effectively ended Steven Lopez’s bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
World Taekwondo did not immediately return a message Monday from USA TODAY Sports asking about Steven and Jean Lopez’s current eligibility.