B.J. Penn has denied the sexual assault accusations made by a former employee, claiming that someone he once considered family is now “trying to extort him.”
A statement was released on Penn’s behalf through the fighter’s website on Thursday evening. Earlier this week, former BJPenn.com writer Pedro Alex Carrasco alleged on Twitter that the former UFC champion assaulted his girlfriend.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto confirmed that there was a pending investigation in Hilo, Hawaii, regarding Penn and the alleged assault of a 29-year-old woman. The report was made in Ohio for an incident which allegedly occurred on Aug. 31, 2015.
As a result of the accusation, the UFC has elected to refrain from booking the recently unretired Penn in any bout until further details from said investigation come to light. The Las Vegas-based promotion will also have the matter reviewed by an independent third party before determining any course of action.
According to the statement on BJPenn.com, Carrasco was fired from the website last year for “unethical behavior” and given a severance package that ended on Feb. 16, the day before Carrasco went public with his accusations against Penn.
“The allegations that Pedro and his girlfriend are making against BJ Penn simply aren’t true,” the statement read. “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.”
Penn retired following a technical knockout loss to Frankie Edgar at “The Ultimate Fighter 19” finale in July 2014. He recently announced plans for a comeback and has been training at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., in preparation for his return. Penn has been rumored to face Dennis Siver at an upcoming UFC card, although it is unknown if those plans are still in place.