HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former mixed martial arts champion and Hilo native B.J. Penn says he is being extorted by a former employee and his girlfriend, who says Penn sexually assaulted her last August.
Earlier this week, a former BJPenn.com editor staff writer accused Penn on Twitter of sexually assaulting a woman. Hawaii News Now is identifying the writer by his first name only, Pedro, to protect the identity of the woman who says Penn sexually assaulted her.
A statement posted Thursday to BJPenn.com says, "The allegations that Pedro and his girlfriend are making against BJ Penn simply aren't true. Penn trusted Pedro to run his website for almost a decade and considered him family. He was fired last year for unethical behavior and was provided a severance that ended on February 16, 2016. One day later, allegations appeared in a one- sided Twitter rant which happen to be many months after the alleged date in question.
The statement continues, "There are many holes in Pedro's story. In the almost 15 years that Penn has been a champion fighter there has not ever been any incident or allegation in regards to his conduct with women. He is family man and father of two young daughters with a known long term girlfriend. It is unfortunate that someone that BJ considered family is trying to extort him."
But Pedro tells Hawaii News Now by phone that he has never asked for any kind of financial compensation.
"We're not after money so there's no reason to talk about a settlement," Pedro said.
He added that he might be convinced to drop the case "if BJ would issue a public apology and confession that would be the quickest, easiest way to resolve this. She wants him to be held accountable."
The sexual assault allegations spurred the Ultimate Fighting Championship to put Penn's comeback fight on hold.
In a statement, the UFC said it's aware of the allegations against Penn and that the "organization requires all athletes who compete in the UFC to act in an ethical and responsible manner."
"In light of the serious allegations, UFC has postponed plans to book Penn for an upcoming bout until more details are determined."
Penn, 37, had announced plans to return to the UFC, after retiring in July 2014. Penn had said the fight was going to happen March 5.
A report on the alleged incident was made to Ohio police on Tuesday; the incident is said to have happened in Hilo. According to the police report, which Hawaii News Now obtained, the case is being sent to Hawaii County to investigate. Sources there say they have not gotten the case, but that could take weeks.
The 29-year old woman reported the alleged assault to police in Ohio, because that's where she and Pedro now live. He says they no longer felt safe in Hilo surrounded by Penn supporters.
When asked why it took so long for them to come forward, Pedro says Penn's family begged him not to go to the authorities. Pedro says text messages and emails will prove he tried to help B.J. Penn, who he claims has a substance abuse problem.