BJJEE made an article about BJJ coral belt Pedro Sauer hosting a BJJ camp in Brazil together with convicted serial sex offender Romolo Barros.
Romolo Barros Silva is a black belt under Rickson Gracie, who was arrested and charged with sexual assault on three women in Maui. In the 3 original arrests, Barros was charged with Sexual Assault 1.
The article provoked mix reactions from the BJJ community. A majority of people were upset and disgusted that someone as respected as Pedro Sauer would show support for a convicted sex offender. A minority expressed support for Sauer, respecting his judgement.
Sauer’s initial reaction was that the article was “Fake news” and BJJEE should “be ashamed of themselves”
A few days after, Mr Sauer made an official statement on his Facebook page saying that he supported his friend of 40 years, Romolo Barros and that he “has never seen Romolo exhibit sexually predatory behavior toward any individual”. Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association:
As both a Father and a highly respected jiu-jitsu Master, Pedro Sauer firmly believes in and actively promotes women’s rights, including the right to be free from unwanted sexual advances. Everyone who knows him or ever has trained with him knows that he has zero tolerance for this type of misconduct, whether in his personal life, his school, or his Association.
In response to Romolo Barros visiting his current training camp in Brazil:
Master Pedro Sauer has known Romolo Barros for 40 years, and has always found him to be a good person. After looking further into the issues, Master Sauer understands that Romolo was convicted on several misdemeanor assault charges in Hawaii. Master Sauer does not condone this behavior, and he sincerely hopes that Romolo has learned from the mistakes of his past. Master Sauer has never seen Romolo exhibit sexually predatory behavior toward any individual.
As an instructor and head of a world-wide jiu-jitsu association, Master Pedro Sauer’s primary concern is always the health and welfare of his students. He ensures that his training environments are safe and led by qualified, respected instructors, and he will continue to do so. Master Sauer has spent his life promoting the art and vision of Grandmaster Helios Gracie, and he will continue to travel and teach to spread the benefits of jiu-jitsu and a safe, healthy, and respectful lifestyle throughout the world.
Two days later, after the massive backlash that his statement caused, Mr Sauer then changed his tune and posted once more on facebook page:
We have received a number of messages over the last few days regarding the Romolo Barros incident, some of which have expressed continued concern and confusion. We are sorry for the confusion and concern that this incident has caused, and we are sorry that Mr. Barros was allowed to participate at the Camp. This was a mistake and he will not be permitted to participate in future Association activities.
We also apologize to anyone who has been upset by this incident. As previously stated, Master Sauer’s primary concern is always the welfare and safety of his students and this will continue to be the case. We hope that all of our students will continue to feel safe and supported, and that they will always speak out about any training issues which may be of concern to them.
Thank you again to everyone who has contacted us regarding this matter. It is important for all of our members and students to provide feedback on issues that concern them. A mistake was made, rest assured that we will do our absolute best to not let it happen again.
When Rilion Gracie had originally uploaded the photo, the Jiu-Jitsu Times reached out to him for comment. Tonight, we received this statement via email:
“This statement is in regards to a picture I posted on Instagram recently…I have been in Brazil since the day after the post with limited access to the internet. I want to start by saying that I was completely unaware of Romolo Barros’s charges and convictions, and had I known about them, he would not have been welcome on my mats. I knew Romolo from training a long time ago in Brazil and we would only see each other occasionally at tournaments and other events over the last 25-30 years. He contacted me to let me know he was in Florida for a day, and he asked if he could train with me. We trained together and I posted a picture on Instagram.
The next day, I started receiving comments calling him names and accusing him of being a sex offender. Since I had no idea of his past, I deleted the comments, believing that they had come from people who just wanted to cause trouble. It was only after I received a telephone call from a trusted friend informing me of what Romolo had been convicted of that I realized that the comments were true and I immediately took the picture down. I do not spend much time on the internet, and I’m constantly traveling to spread the art of Jiu-Jitsu, so this news caught me completely by surprise. I want to make it absolutely clear that I DONT CONDONE HIS ACTIONS. HE DOES NOT TEACH – and never had- AT ANY OF MY SCHOOLS.
I am proud of the honest and law abiding lifestyle that I have lived as an example to my family and to my students. I know that those who know me will recognize the reputation I have spent my entire life building and realize that I will continue to do my best to spread the art of Jiu Jitsu in a safe learning environment.