Longform

The Cult of Lloyd Irvin

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"He told us she was down for it," Schultz recalls. "And that the next day, her boyfriend had found out and then she went to police."

Irvin also told students he was helping pay the legal bills for Nick Schultz and Maldonado, who — like most in his circle — had little financial means of their own.

"Most of the guys didn't seem to care," says Camacho. "You just want to go train. That was all we wanted. To train."

But the atmosphere of the school had changed. Every day seemed to bring more negative attention. Team Lloyd Irvin was quickly becoming a scarlet letter in martial arts circles.

"As a team, we were hated on," Camacho says. "It was over the top even before all of this. People making fun of us at tourneys, throwing up the hand sign. Meanwhile, we're wrecking and winning titles. But when that stuff happened, it was hate times one hundred."

Uncomfortable and fearing any continued association with Irvin would have a negative impact on their careers, several Medal Chasers and other students decided to leave at night rather than navigate Irvin's expected protests. Brookhouse, who tried in vain to get Irvin to comment, soon became a target of his ire.

"I reached out to him and he said the 1989 rape was old news, that it shouldn't be made public," Brookhouse recalls. Irvin later wrote on Facebook that he might "put an investigator" on Brookhouse for his reporting, which Irvin dubbed "harassment."

Matters were made worse when a YouTube resurfaced that depicted Irvin driving away from a Mercedes dealership and brandishing stacks of money. Memorabilia from the movie Scarface is shown; so is a mural depicting Irvin in his fraternity colors of purple and gold, two men bowing to him on either side.

But off-camera, Irvin's financial state wasn't so bountiful. He and his wife have been jointly hit with three separate IRS liens in 2011 and 2013 totaling $1,563,276. All remain outstanding as interest continues to accrue.


Billie returned to the school after the New Year's incident, feeling that Irvin supported her. But once she discovered that he was paying for her alleged attackers' legal bills, she left, according to friends.

Schultz and Maldonado finally went to trial in October. But the surveillance video was blurry. Despite viewing the footage more than 100 times, jurors couldn't say beyond a reasonable doubt that the three intoxicated students were involved in forcible sex. Schultz and Maldonado were found not guilty.

Irvin declined to be interviewed for this story. "A wise man once told me, 'Don't waste your time with explanations,'" he wrote in response to an interview request. "'People will hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe.'" He claimed a "lynch mob" had formed and that former student Ryan Hall, who has been outspoken about Irvin's practices, was "guiding the story."

In his open letter, however, Irvin addressed the night in River Park. "The facts are the facts and glossing over the fact that I did NOT rape nor have sex with ANYONE involved in the 1989 incident cannot and should not be brushed under the carpet...I am 100% against rape, attempted rape or any other form of violence against women. I don't support it, don't condone it and don't enable an environment that would ever have anything to do with it."

On one message board, Maryland instructor Phil Proctor questioned the motives of the woman who brought the 1989 rape charges: "It sounds like a 'train was run' on a dirty whore that got to feeling guilty," he wrote. Proctor did not respond to interview requests.

Several former students and associates of Irvin's contacted for this story also declined comment, citing fear of retaliation by Irvin in the form of character attacks or the potential for confrontations during jiu-jitsu tournaments, where Irvin remains a presence.

Others believe men like Hall have ulterior motives for criticizing their former instructor. "I've never seen Irvin do or say anything bad," says Ken McCarthy, a marketing consultant endorsed by Kennedy. "I just saw a really hard working, focused guy taking care of business. The people speaking against him also run schools. There's incentive. Those [exiting] students are worth money."

UFC bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz and Brandon Vera have cut ties with Irvin. Irvin also disbanded his affiliate program, which allowed schools to use Irvin's reputation to bolster enrollment. In return, winning students would be considered "Team Lloyd Irvin" branded athletes, a label that now appears unwelcome.

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Jake Rossen