B.J. Penn responds to sexual assault allegations, claims extortion from accusers

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

B.J. Penn (photo credit Stephen R. Sylvanie © USAToday Sports)

B.J. Penn has released a statement via representatives on his website responding to the serious allegations made against him this week.

Pedro Carrasco, former site-runner at BJPenn.com, earlier this week alleged that Penn had sexually assaulted his girlfriend, Amber Soukup, an allegation that he claimed was under investigation with authorities. Soukup herself then filed an official police report this week to press charges against Penn. Those action led to the UFC postponing plans to book Penn in a return fight, which he was expecting for UFC 197 in April.

In his response, Penn denies the allegations, and instead accuses Carrasco of extortion.

“The allegations that Pedro and his girlfriend are making against B.J. Penn simply aren’t true,” the statement reads. “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 severence (sic) 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. (August of 2015). 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 B.J. considered family is trying to extort him.”

Penick’s Analysis: There are certainly credibility concerns when it comes to Carrasco, who already himself and with BJPenn.com had a horrible reputation in the media for plagiarism and outright article theft without attribution, but that doesn’t negate his claims if there’s truth to them. That there is a police report filed and investigation ongoing suggests this isn’t an extortion issue, unless Penn can provide proof of Carrasco threatening in advance to come out with this story unless he was paid. Now, there’s concern as well over the time between when the incident allegedly happened and anything being filed, but if Carrasco was bound to some kind of contractual situation to remain quiet while being paid severance that could somewhat explain that, though it was his girlfriend who was the alleged victim here. For now, this is a serious situation and serious allegations which need to be investigated as much as is possible on a seven month old incident, but if it happened the way it was alleged, Penn’s done. If it’s false, Carrasco and his girlfriend have done a convincing job to smear Penn on the way out. We’ll know more once the investigation concludes and any official charges are or are not brought against the UFC Hall of Famer.

[Photo (c) Stephen R. Sylvanie via USA Today Sports]

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