The Cult of Lloyd Irvin

A top UFC trainer builds a house of champions. Allegations of psychological and sexual abuse tear it down.

Nick Schultz became friendly with fellow student Matthew "Matteo" Maldonado, who had been there only a month. On New Year's Day, an acquaintance of Maldonado's got a text. "Had a great time," he wrote. "Went out clubbing."

Earlier that morning, Schultz and Maldonado were in nearby Washington with a female student, Billie — not her real name — who had been at Irvin's roughly a year. According to a statement she later gave to police, all three were drinking. She said the two men then took her, inebriated and staggering, into a nearby church parking garage and raped her.

In their arrest warrant, investigators describe retrieving surveillance footage they alleged shows Maldonado holding up an inebriated Billie, then penetrating her from behind. After Maldonado departs, Schultz appears to force her into oral and vaginal sex. At various points, police asserted, she's dropped to the concrete, unable to support herself. Billie was left in the garage until a passerby heard her crying for help.

Lloyd Irvin, AKA Master Lloyd
Mike Calimbas
Lloyd Irvin, AKA Master Lloyd
Court records show the state of Iowa charged De'Alonzio "DJ" Jackson with third-degree sexual assault and supplying alcohol to a minor.
Mike Calimbas
Court records show the state of Iowa charged De'Alonzio "DJ" Jackson with third-degree sexual assault and supplying alcohol to a minor.

In an open letter that appeared on GracieMag.com, a jiu-jitsu news site, Irvin promised to see the victim through this difficult period and expressed disgust at the actions of his students, noting that both had only been there a short time.

Despite his statement, the martial arts media pounced on the story, charging Irvin with a corrosive environment that was likened to an island of misfit toys.

"Suddenly," Keenan's sister Chloe recalls, "it went from, 'Everyone makes mistakes' to, 'Lloyd is a monster.'"

Inundated by negative press relating to the New Year's Eve incident and the subsequent discovery of his own 1990 rape trial, Irvin took quick and — by his own admission — regrettable action. He purchased a URL, LloydIrvinRape.com, and used search engine optimization techniques so it would appear near the top of an Irvin-related web search, bumping his own rape-related clippings further down the page.

LloydIrvinRape.com advertised women's self-defense courses. "Lloyd Irvin's Martial Arts Academy is fully dedicated to empowering as many women as possible," read the copy. "Information is power and arming women with the ability to be smart, aware of their surroundings and defend against an attacker is top priority in the Ladies Kick Butt seminar and program."

Accompanying footage showed clips from a 2012 seminar, the women in attendance likely ignorant that the lead instructor was once on trial for sexual assault himself.

Irvin addressed the URL controversy after BloodyElbow.com reporter Brent Brookhouse exposed the sleight of hand. "The reason I purchased the URL was singular," Irvin wrote in the same open letter on GracieMag.com. "I didn't like the tone and tenor of things online but still felt I could not speak publicly about anything ... the execution and timing were awful."

Despite the mea culpa, he purchased at least one additional URL after his statement was released: LloydIrvinRape.us, which now directs visitors to a video by stand-up comedian Kat Williams on "haters."

Keenan's mother was horrified. She made another plea for her son to return home.

"Billie just got back from the salon and got highlights," she recalls Keenan saying. "She can't be that upset."

Last January, Irvin called an early morning meeting of his top male competitors. According to Camacho and Jordon Schultz, both present at the gathering, he wanted to clear the air regarding the negative publicity. Of the 1990 allegations, Irvin told them the victim had wanted it and claimed rape out of guilt. No one seemed to question why this seemingly consensual act had sent four men to prison.

"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.

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