Child molesters are apparently everywhere, from schools to churches to the Boy Scouts. You’d imagine they’d think twice about trying to molest the tough as nails girls who populate the US judo scene, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. For decades USA Judo kept someone on the executive board that had been accused multiple times of drugging and sexually abusing female competitors. Enter Ronda Rousey, who wasn’t about to stay silent about that sh*t:
In 2008, when Rousey had already made the U.S. Olympic judo team, she wrote a post on her blog that shined a light on a judo official. Rousey wrote about accusations made against Fletcher Thornton. In sworn affidavits, then-teenaged judo players said Thornton had drugged and molested them.
The complaints against Fletcher didn’t keep him from holding high offices within the judo community until Rousey spoke up. He resigned two weeks before the 2008 Games started.
“I felt it was the right thing to do, and I had already made the Olympic team, so there was nothing anyone could do to me,” Rousey told Cagewriter during our January interview.
“Someone had to speak up against this pervert. I thought, if I’m the only one who has the balls to do anything about it, then I’ll deal with the consequences. I got a hold of all the affidavits, I spread it all around, and we got the New York Times to write an article about it. Now, he’s never going to be around judo or any young women ever. I felt obligated as a woman to do that.”
You can read that New York Times article here, or the initial forum post Rousey made here, or the post Ronda’s outspoken and badass mother wrote here calling USA Judo out for never investigating the claims properly. People who sexually assault kids are pretty much the worst people on the planet, but I hope there is a special sub-level in Mormon hell for those who stand idly by and do nothing when these kinds of allegations surface. Ronda’s mom summed up USA Judo’s position thusly:
“Yes, there have been multiple complaints from multiple states over a thirty year period. Yes, people keep bringing this up and refusing to accept our statement that we investigated it, especially when new people come forward with complaints they know they have never talked to us about before. However, we are going to keep sending him along with junior teams until he gets indicted.”
She also opened up on the USJI’s ‘investigation’ into the case and what a total sham it was:
(More after the jump)
The USJI statement is a lie and anyone is free to quote me on that.
They say they did an investigation in Colorado Springs in 1982 at the U.S. Open. and people did not come forward. I was not notified of this hearing and I was a witness to some of this and I later wrote a complaint to USJI about sexual harassment by Fletcher, a complaint I submitted in 2005. Another woman who alleged to have been sexually abused by Fletcher as a teenager wrote a letter in 2005. This was NOT one of the girls who wrote complaints that brought about the 1982 investigation. She was in Colorado Springs and did not know any investigation was happening, nor did I. So, to say that people do not have the right to file complaints because they did not appear at an investigation they did not know was happening and did not appeal a finding they did not know happened is a pretty outrageous claim.
Even if we had read the USJI minutes, here is what they said, “The claims against Fletcher were investigated and found not to be substantiated.”
Since we knew he had molested girls, in fact, one of us was a girl he molested, even if we had read that we would have known it could not have possibly been that. Besides, we knew no one had contacted us or our friends who were still in judo so what kind of investigation could have happened. This was IF we had happened to read that one sentence in the USJI minutes.
How was it not substantiated? I spoke with the late Frank Fullerton on this and he said that Tad Nalls made a mistake in investigating it. He told me that Tad held a hearing in Colorado Springs, the girls from Washington state who had written these affidavits did not show up so Tad dismissed it for lack of evidence. THAT was their investigation.
A lot of this is stuff from the 70s, 80s, and 2008, so it’s all pretty outdated, I suppose. But while there may be legal statutes of limitation on being able to prosecute child molesters, there’s no limitation on our being outraged at how situations like this are often swept under the rug and molesters are left to abuse more kids. Disgusting, and knowing the Rouseys risked their position in the judo community to out someone accused of multiple abuses just makes me love them even more than before. And if you’ve seen my Ronda Rousey shrine, you’ll know I already loved her to a creepy degree.