'He groomed us': Bellator champ and sister claim 'disgusting' coach offered schoolgirls cash for sex acts in campaign of abuse
Bellator flyweight champion Ilima Macfarlane has vowed that basketball coach Dwayne Yuen's "time is up" after filing against him for a string of sexual abuse offenses that she alleges she suffered at a private school in Hawaii.
Macfarlane has detailed her alleged ordeal at Punahou School and admitted she has spent years "in denial" after filing a lawsuit against Yuen alongside her sister, Mahina, and a fellow student athlete, compelled by the discovery that the coach is still teaching minors and was at the center of accusations by fellow pupils in 2018.
The Honolulu-born fighter has claimed she abandoned her dreams of becoming a basketball professional and turned to wrestling because of Yuen's behavior, which is said to have started when she was a 12-year-old and included sending explicit photos of his penis, forcing the pair to touch his genitals and offering cash for sex acts, according to the lawsuit filed at Honolulu Circuit Court.
"I was in sixth grade and Mahina was a freshman when the sexual abuse and grooming started," Macfarlane told fans, describing Yuen's alleged actions at the school she had attended since kindergarten as "sexual assault in the first, second, third and fourth degree."
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Even though I’ve been a strong voice for other wahine toa—creating my scholarship for native girls, teaching self-defense to them, leading healing retreats for women—I never really shared my own story. To be honest, I was in denial and didn’t want to admit that it affected me as much as it did. I have to be strong. I’m a professional fighter. I can’t show any vulnerability. I can’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he infiltrated my thoughts, relationships and life even 15 years later. But here we are. The time is now. And for all the trolls saying, “wHy DiD u wAiT s0 l0nG?!” Idiots. We didn’t “wait”. My sister reported him to the school when it happened and they swept it under the rug. Punahou knew I was a victim and witness to my own sister’s abuse and didn’t even bother to check on me. As a result we were retaliated against by him and the basketball program and had to see him everyday, still allowed on campus around minors. My sister and I tried our best to move on with our lives until it resurfaced in 2018 when more victims came forward. Punahou claimed they were doing an internal investigation but again, didn’t contact me and refused to share the results of the “investigation” with my sister. Disgustingly, we found out that he’s STILL coaching and teaching minor girls. So here we are now, 15 years later seeking justice together. He can’t get away with this anymore. Dwayne Yuen, YOUR TIME IS UP. P.S. I chose this picture not only for the solidarity that my family and I have together through this process, but to show you how old me and Mahina were when the sexual grooming and abuse started. I was in 6th grade and she (far right) was a freshman.
"My sister reported him to the school when it happened and they swept it under the rug. Punahou knew I was a victim and witness to my own sister’s abuse and didn’t even bother to check on me.
"As a result, we were retaliated against by him and the basketball program and had to see him every day, still allowed on campus around minors.
"I ended up losing my love for basketball, which was crazy. That’s what I wanted to do as a career. I wanted to play professional basketball in the WNBA."
Yuen, who was in his early 30s at the time, is said to have taken an "immediate and perverted" interest in Mahina, despite the teenager not even initially being on the team he was coaching.
An assistant for the Junior Varsity team before becoming head coach of the school's Intermediate team, Yuen is described as giving Mahina "special attention," including rides home from school alone after practice.
He is alleged to have bought her expensive gifts including shoes, clothes and a cellphone, becoming increasingly sexually flirtatious and offering her $1,000 for a "hand-job" and to watch him pleasure himself.Also on rt.com ‘With dignity, but without bitterness’: French figure skating boss Didier Gailhaguet resigns amid huge sex scandal
Despite Mahina apparently growing upset and asking to drop out of school, other coaches who were also allegedly sent photos by Yuen of his private parts are said to have described his behaviour as "Dwayne just being Dwayne."
Macfarlane is described as a "gym rat" in the documents, which suggest that her former coach showered her with presents, made and delivered her food and took requests for destinations while driving her around in his SUV vehicle with dark tint, which made her feel "cool."
He is alleged to have bought her a phone and plan, using it to text and call Macfarlane as part of a scheme that made her "fall in love" with him, including taking her to his house where he would fall asleep next to her, as well as sending her explicit photos and showing her crude pictures on campus.Also on rt.com ‘It was the first time that a man touched me’: French 10-time skating champ Sarah Abitbol claims she was raped by former coach
Macfarlane says Yuen told her to "deny, deny, deny" any suspicions from others and caused her to have a nervous breakdown in school.
Their co-defendent has named "repulsive" sexual acts, "sexually explicit recitals" of acts involving toys and penetration and the sending of hundreds of "menacing sexual extortion messages" as part of her suit.
The alleged abuse took place in 2003 and 2004, and the sisters are said to have "courageously" asked the school to take action in 2004 and 2005, receiving no protection while Yuen was allowed to continue playing a key role in the campus basketball program.Also on rt.com Saints to sinners? NFL's New Orleans Saints in court bid to stop release of emails linked to Catholic child abuse scandal
They say that coaches and members of the school community called them "liars" and "sluts," ridiculed them and benched them as a result of their claims.
Macfarlane graduated from Punahou in 2009 and began her stellar MMA career five years later, swiftly signing for Bellator as part of a rise that has required a toughness which she feels may have prevented her from talking publicly about her school days.
"I never really shared my own story," she said. "I have to be strong. I’m a professional fighter. I can’t show any vulnerability. To be honest, I was in denial and didn’t want to admit that it affected me as much as it did.
"I can’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he infiltrated my thoughts, relationships and life even 15 years later. But here we are. The time is now."
In a statement released to Hawaii News Now, the school said it was "deeply troubled" by the reports and that an investigation was underway with the aim of achieving "resolution and healing."
“In no uncertain terms, Punahou stands with survivors of sexual abuse everywhere, and we respect the courage it takes to report these incidents,” the statement read.Also on rt.com Ex-Real Madrid & Germany defender Christoph Metzelder suspected of 'spreading child pornography’
Macfarlane insisted that the school had been negligent. "My sister and I tried our best to move on with our lives until [the allegations] resurfaced in 2018 when more victims came forward," she said.
"Punahou claimed they were doing an internal investigation but again didn’t contact me and refused to share the results of the 'investigation' with my sister.
"Disgustingly, we found out that he’s still coaching and teaching minor girls. So here we are now, 15 years later seeking justice together.Also on rt.com Coach of Olympic champ Tara Lipinski gets lifetime ban for allegedly sexually abusing boys
"He can’t get away with this anymore. Dwayne Yuen, your time is up."
Macfarlane, 30, is a hero on her home island, where an annual day in her honor takes place in September. Known as 'The Ilimanator', she is unbeaten in 11 pro MMA outings, last defeating Kate Jackson via unanimous decision in December.
Bellator fighter Leah McCourt, UFC middleweight Puna Soriano and former US presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard were among those to offer their support following her announcement on social media.
Yuen did not reply to a request for comment, ESPN reported.