By Jim Schutze
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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.
Disappointed his family's art was being dragged into the negative press, Rener Gracie released a YouTube video condemning schools that prioritize the win-at-all-costs mentality. "There's no regulating body for running an academy," he says. "The risk is, you take someone with a rough upbringing without education or values or influence and teach them jiu-jitsu.
"Once they make it, they'll feel like they have the right to abuse those below them."
Irvin's school remains open for business in Camp Springs, with plans to add a women's only fitness training center in the near future.
His website summarizes the academy's philosophy for young enrollees. Under the watchful eye of Lloyd Irvin, parents are assured of one thing: "Morals are number one."