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Bellator champion Ilima-Lei MacFarlane among those accusing former coach of sexual abuse

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Ilima-Lei MacFarlane, and two others, filed a lawsuit against a former school basketball coach accusing him of grooming and sexual abuse.

Esther Lin / MMA Fighting

[CW: The following article includes details regarding accusations of sexual abuse]

Earlier this week HawaiiNewsNow reported that Bellator flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, and two others, filed a lawsuit against Dwayne Yuen; a former basketball coach at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI. Macfarlane joined Punahou as a kindergartner and graduated in 2009.

Macfarlane’s lawsuit accuses Yuen of beginning to groom her and her sister in 2003, when the girls were 12 and 14-years-old. In the lawsuit the sisters state that Yuen forced the sisters to touch his genitals, offered cash for sex acts and sent them explicit photos of himself.

A third Punahou student, who is not named in the lawsuit, accused Yuen of sexual abuse and claimed that Yuen sent her threatening texts and phone messages. Transcripts of those messages were attached to the lawsuit.

Yuen, who has not been arrested or charged in connection to the accusations included in the lawsuit, did not comment on the story when offered the chance by HNN. Punahou School commented on the story in an email to parents and teachers, stating they were ‘heartbroken’ by the accounts of the plaintiffs.

“In no uncertain terms, Punahou stands with survivors of sexual abuse everywhere, and we respect the courage it takes to report these incidents,” read part of the statement.

The Macfarlane sisters have claimed they reported Yuen to school administrators over 15 years ago. Macfarlane told HNN there was no follow up from Punahou at that time. “I truly believe and know that they all knew what was going on and it was just like a culture there,” said Macfarlane.

Yesterday Macfarlane took to Instagram to share more of her story.

View this post on Instagram

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 right 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.

A post shared by Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (@ilimanator) on

Alongside a picture of a young Macfarlane with her family, the fighter wrote:

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 right 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.

Survivors of sexual assault can find support via the following organizations:

US - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)’s National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). RAINN also has an online chat service.

Love is Respect, 1-866-331-9474. They can also be reached via online chat or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.

End Rape on Campus (EROC), 1-424-777-EROC (3762).

Canada - Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, 1-877-232-2610.

UK - UK Says No More.

Rest of the World - International Rape Crisis Hotlines.