February trial targeted in Fight Sports sexual misconduct lawsuit

Deadlines have been extended in the ongoing court case involving Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Fight Sports, and Marcel Goncalves.

In August of 2021, the broader jiu-jitsu community learned of sexual assault allegations and criminal actions taken against former Fight Sports BJJ instructor Marcel Goncalves. The community also became aware of allegations that Fight Sports founder and top competitor Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu had mishandled the situation involving Goncalves by attempting to silence his victim and harbor Goncalves after his arrest.

Abreu was also the target of allegations that he and other men at Fight Sports have previously mishandled reports of sexual misconduct and assault against women in a similar manner.

Abreu has since stripped Goncalves of his black belt and distanced himself from his former student.

In December 2021, Goncalves, Abreu, and Fight Sports were named defendants in a lawsuit filed in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The complaint in that case alleges that Goncalves began abusing the anonymous plaintiff in late 2017 when the plaintiff was 16 years old and Goncalves was in his 30s. At the time, Goncalves was the plaintiff’s jiu-jitsu instructor, and the lawsuit alleges he used this position of power to continue to abuse the plaintiff for months, “every weekend.”

The lawsuit implicates Abreu for his alleged mishandling of the sexual abuse and alleges that Abreu had prior knowledge of sexual misconduct. The plaintiff further states that by failing to take action to curb such behavior, Abreu created a culture at Fight Sports that allowed sexual abuse to take place.

Deadlines extended in Fight Sports sexual misconduct case

On Monday, Judge Jose Rodriguez entered an agreed order extending the deadlines in the ongoing case.

Under the new deadlines, the parties must complete all discovery (including answers to interrogatories, production of documents, and depositions of witnesses) by January 19, 2023.

The “trial ready” deadline is set for February 20, 2023.

Importantly, this deadline does not necessarily mean a trial will take place; the parties could reach a settlement or resolution before then, or the case could be decided by the judge after the parties submit dispositive motions.

Additionally, the trial may not take place on February 20, 2023, as the parties are only required to be ready for trial at that time. 

Abreu continues to compete

Despite the allegations lodged against him and the backlash he received, including an investigative report by the New York Times, the 41-year-old Abreu has continued to compete in major jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions.

A 2013 ADCC absolute champion, Abreu won gold at the 2022 IBJJF Pans and most recently competed at the 2022 ADCC World Championships, where he lost in the first round of his weight division and made it to the semifinals of the absolute division.

On Friday, Abreu will have the chance to win $40,000 in prize money when he competes in the IBJJF Absolute Grand Prix – an eight-man, invite-only tournament.

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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