Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu and his affiliation, Fight Sports, have now been linked to yet another case of sexual assault and are named in a second lawsuit. This is not the first instance of abuse taking place at a Fight Sports affiliate, and is a worrying development for the safety of young BJJ athletes. A BJJ black belt under Abreu, Marcel Goncalves, engaged in a sexual relationship with one of his minor students back in 2018 and both Fight Sports and Abreu were named in the resulting lawsuit.
Although the affiliation won a summary judgement in that case and were not held liable for the incident, the criminal case is still ongoing. The second lawsuit surrounding an instance of sexual assault that has named Fight Sports and Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu as the head of the affiliation comes from a different affiliated gym. Rodrigo da Costa Oliveira was a coach of Rockstar Martial Arts Gym in Frisco, Texas and first met Mandy Schneider when she was just 13 years old. According to the lawsuit, Schneider was due to compete at Submission Hunter Pro 60 in 2020 and traveled to the event alone with Oliveira.
Once they got to the hotel, Oliveira allegedly lured Schneider into his room and pressured her to drink alcohol despite the fact that she was a minor. The lawsuit states that he then suggested they spar together and he used that as a pretext to commit a brutal sexual assaulted her, allegedly forcing himself on her in multiple ways. It then states that after they returned home from the event Schneider took this information to the then-managers of Rockstar Martial Arts, Nicole Bilski and Cody Hudson.
According to the law in Texas, Bilski and Hudson were required to report the incident of abuse of a minor to both Schneider’s parents and law enforcement. However, they allegedly made an attempt to hide the incident and actually told Schneider that the sexual assault was her fault, ordering her to stay quiet as well. Police were only notified of the incident on November 12, 2020, when Schneider’s father filed a police report after she told her parents about the assault.
Schneider gave a statement to FOX 26 Houston where she gave her thoughts on the incident:
“The betrayal and violation I experienced as a child at the hands of a trusted coach and mentor changed my life forever and altered my perception of the sport I love. But I refuse to let this trauma take away my passion for Jiu-Jitsu and I choose to continue my training as an act of defiance against my trauma. My hope is that my story sparks crucial conversations in the Jiu-Jitsu community about safety, awareness of sexual abuse related to minor athletes and their coaches, and zero tolerance for abuse.”
The other incident surrounding Marcel Goncalves was also referenced in this second sexual assault lawsuit concerning Fight Sports and it’s owner Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu. Schneider’s lawyer, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, alluded to it in a statement:
“My client has shown incredible bravery in shedding light on the appalling sexual abuse she suffered as a minor at the hands of her coach. The repeated failures of Roberto Abreu and Fight Sports to ensure the safety of underage athletes have fostered an environment ripe for such abuse. Our aim is not only to secure some measure of justice for Mandy, but also to hold fully accountable all those who failed in their duty to protect her.”