Olympic Fencer Accused of Sexual Misconduct Leaves Team

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Hadzic narrowly missed the US fencing team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and qualified for the Tokyo Games on May 7. But soon accusations of sexual harassment were posted on the page and elsewhere on social media, accusing her of being a predator and rapist.

His lawyer, Palma, said Hacic has never been sexually assaulted and has never been charged with any civil or criminal complaints related to rape or sexual impropriety. Palma said Hadzic was suspended from Columbia for the year 2013-14 following a Title IX investigation involving sexual consent. He described the case as a “kangaroo court” where Hadzic was not allowed to call witnesses or present character statements.

If Hadzic and his accusers can agree on anything in the present case, it’s what his lawyers call the shortcomings of SafeSport’s procedural system.

SafeSport, approx. 1,500 people in Olympic sportsand its research capability has grown significantly, over the years it has faced criticism for its lack of funding, staffing, transparency, and independence from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

“The system is broken,” Palma said.

Accusations of sexual harassment, although rebutted, are initially considered true by SafeSport as a way to protect those who may be victims. Saying this puts the defendants at a disadvantage, Palma noted that Hadzic was temporarily suspended without prior notice and without a chance to defend himself. Palma said the case was settled on social media before Hadzic had an opportunity to revoke his sentence, as can be the case with such cases.

Palma said that USA Fencing has known about the accusations against Hadzic for years, but placed no restraints on him until he made it to the Olympic team. USA Fencing declined to comment. Palma said that if Hadzic’s accusers were so worried about his behavior, why didn’t they go to SafeSport years ago instead of waiting for him to attend the Tokyo Games.

“The allegations are serious,” Palma said. “The truth is, these are not true.”

Meanwhile, Hadzic’s accusers feel he has been given the chance to potentially compete and represent his country at fencing’s premier global showcase.

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