Ilima-Lei Macfarlane suing former basketball coach for sexual abuse

Ilima-Lei-Macfarlane

Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and two other women are suing a former basketball coach for sexual abuse.

Macfarlane and the two other student-athletes filed a lawsuit on Thursday in Honolulu Circuit Court that names Punahou School and their former basketball coach Dwayne Yuen among the defendants. Hawaii News Now was the first to report the story.

According to Macfarlane, Yuen allegedly sexually abused her when she was 12 years old.

“I had an inappropriate relationship with an adult who was in an authoritative position and a position of power, as a 12-year old, and that has 100-percent affected what I think is a healthy relationship,” Macfarlane said.

Macfarlane said she and her sister Mahina Macfarlane Souza were sexually abused by Yuen starting in 2003 when Macfarlane was 12 and Souza was 14.

According to the report, “the sisters allege that Yuen later forced them to touch his genitals, offered cash for sex acts and sent explicit photos of himself.” Macfarlane accused the coach of attempting to groom her and her sister. The third woman, who was not named, also alleges sexual abuse by Yuen. Hawaii News Now attempted to ask the coach for comment but was referred back to his attorney.

Punahou School released a statement that read: “In no uncertain terms, Punahou stands with survivors of sexual abuse everywhere, and we respect the courage it takes to report these incidents.”

Macfarlane says that because of the sexual abuse by her basketball coach she decided to pursue wrestling instead. She eventually used that wrestling base to help her excel in mixed martial arts, where she is currently the Bellator women’s flyweight champion.

“I ended up losing my love for basketball, which was crazy. That’s what I wanted to do as a career. I wanted to play professional basketball in the WNBA,” Ilima-Lei Macfarlane said.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/24/2020.