FILE - In this July 21, 2015 file photo, United States' Steven Lopez celebrates winning a bronze medal by defeating Venezuela's Javier Medina in the men's taekwondo under-80kg category at the Pan Am Games in Mississauga, Ontario. The U.S. Center for SafeSport has on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, permanently banned the two-time Olympic taekwondo champion for sexual misconduct involving a minor. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

Taekwondo champ Steven Lopez receives permanent ban

September 08, 2018 - 6:10 am

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Center for SafeSport has permanently banned two-time Olympic taekwondo champion Steven Lopez for sexual misconduct involving a minor.

The center has been investigating Lopez for about four months and made his ban permanent Thursday night. He can appeal.

He was suspended in May, a few days after four women filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing USA Taekwondo and the U.S. Olympic Committee of sex trafficking.

The lawsuit alleges the organizations were long aware that Lopez and his brother, Jean, were sexual predators, but kept sending young women with them to competitions and practices. The plaintiffs have since added the U.S. Center for SafeSport as a defendant.

Jean Lopez has also been banned on an interim basis.