Photo via Oregon Live
The alleged charges are two counts of sexual abuse to a female minor at the jiu-jitsu academy in the city of Clackamas, Oregon, where Franca was an instructor. Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) has issued a press release that Franca's contract has been terminated with the promotion.
The fighter allegedly flew to Oregon on Monday from Florida, where he now resides, and turned himself in to Clackamas County Jail on seven counts of sexual abuse in the first degree and two counts of unlawful sexual penetration in the second degree.
MMA Junkie has more details:
At an arraignment hearing on Tuesday, Franca plead not guilty to seven counts of sex abuse in the first degree and two counts of unlawful sexual penetration in the second degree. His bail has been set at $250,000.
Each of the charges against Franca carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 75 months, Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Horner of the Clackamas County District Attorney's office today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Horner said Franca has been "cooperative" with the District Attorney's office.
A release hearing for Franca is set for Friday, and his counsel is expected to ask for a reduction of his bail. He has retained a Portland-based lawyer, Ryan Corbridge, to represent him.
The Junkie article also includes statements from the aforementioned Corbridge on Franca's not-guilty plea and the trial proceedings.
"We adamantly deny these allegations and want to point out that he's innocent until proven guilty," Corbridge said today.
A July 12 date has been set for Franca's trial, though Horner expressed doubts that the date would hold.
"It's unlikely that a case of this significance would go to trial this quickly," he said.
Franca was pegged for a lightweight title bout with MFC's 155-pound champ Drew Fickett. Mark Pavelich, the president and owner of the Canada-based fight promotion, cited these allegations as well as breach of contract in the press release, which is posted in full after the break.
The Maximum Fighting Championship has terminated the contract of Hermes Franca as a fighter with the organization.
An immediate search is underway to replace Franca who was slated to fight Drew Fickett on Friday, June 10 at MFC 30: Up Close & Personal. Fickett's new opponent is expected to be announced shortly.
"Mr. Franca's legal situation is a matter in the hands of law enforcement officials and soon to be going before the courts and because of that there will not be any further comment on those allegations, but I have taken immediate action to indicate that he is no longer going to be part of my organization," stated MFC Owner/President Mark Pavelich.
"We were informed about his arrest and pending trial, and as of 10:30 a.m. MT today, he has been released. These are serious allegations that he is facing and I do not want the Maximum Fighting Championship associated in any way with these matters."
On top of legal difficulties that were revealed today, Franca twice fought outside of the MFC while under contract with the organization.
"Mr. Franca breached his contract by fighting outside of the organization only 15 days after his bout at MFC 29, and then he fought again six days after that in Brazil and lost," said Pavelich.
"I find his these actions to be incredibly disrespectful to my company and Mr. Franca is no longer welcome as part of the Maximum Fighting Championship."
Franca, a black belt in BJJ, made his Octagon debut in 2003 vs. Rich Crunkilton at UFC 42, winning by decision. After defeating Caol Uno in his sophomore effort, Franca dropped razor-thin decisions to top lightweights Josh Thomson and Yves Edwards that many found controversial. The UFC would later dissolve their lightweight class.
After the UFC re-opened business at 155, Franca hit his career high with four-straight wins that included Toby Imada and Ryan Schultz to earn another shot in the Octagon, where he beat Joe Jordan and Jamie Varner, the latter by an inspiring comeback victory.
Franca went on to notch his most impressive win with an armbar on Nate Diaz at WEC 24, which is still to this day the only time Diaz has been finished, followed by a KO of Spencer Fisher at "UFC: Ultimate Fight Night 8."