Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has been accused of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles against him and his tequila brand, Casa Mexico, according to court documents obtained by ESPN.
A woman who is a former employee of Casa Mexico alleges in the filing that De La Hoya sexually harassed and sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions. The lawsuit is a counter complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Casa Mexico, company executives Michael Gooch and Robert Crossan, DV Capital Partners and De La Hoya.
"As a survivor of this abuse, she wants others to know this behavior is unacceptable -- and it doesn't matter who you are," the woman's attorney, Sylvia Torres-Guillen, said in a statement. "We will seek justice on her behalf."
According to the filing, Casa Mexico organized a company event in Mexico to visit the brand's distillery in March 2020. The former employee alleges that on the first night there she awoke to De La Hoya knocking on her hotel room door. When she opened the door, she said she saw De La Hoya with his pants down around his ankles. She claims he forced his way into her room and got into her bed. Per the suit, the woman pushed him out of her bed and walked him back to his room.
The next morning when De La Hoya failed to show up for a scheduled meeting to tour the distillery, the woman claims she went to his room to wake him and alleges De La Hoya pulled her into his bed and sexually assaulted her.
Shortly after her return to Los Angeles after the trip, the woman says she attended a company party at a restaurant where some people ended up at De La Hoya's home afterward. When De La Hoya was alone with the woman, she alleges that he "revealed and retrieved a sexual object from a stored collection in his house," per the filing. De La Hoya, the woman claims, "forcibly inserted the sexual object into her body."
The woman says she told Casa Mexico executives, but they did nothing to discipline De La Hoya. She says, per the complaint, that she feared retribution from the company if she spoke out about the alleged abuse.
ESPN does not disclose the names of those who say they are victims of sexual violence. The Los Angeles Times first reported the news of the lawsuit.
De La Hoya and television personality Mario Lopez are listed as partners in Casa Mexico on the company's website. De La Hoya denied the lawsuit allegations in a statement released Wednesday to the Times.
"With the 24-hour news cycle we all find ourselves in, more often than not, malicious and unjust accusations are interpreted as truth without the evidence to support their erroneous claims," De La Hoya said in a statement. "I am confident my legal team will resolve this matter and prove my innocence."
In addition to the claims of sexual harassment and sexual battery, the suit alleges gender discrimination, wrongful termination and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Casa Mexico sued the woman and company founder Eric Gerardo Leyva-Buccio for breach of fiduciary duty in December, a case that remains open.
De La Hoya, 49, is a former six-division champion and Olympic gold medalist. He was one of the most popular boxers of his generation. De La Hoya, a Los Angeles native and dual American and Mexican citizen, retired following a loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2008. He was scheduled to return to the ring last year but withdrew after coming down with COVID-19. He has since said he will not make a comeback.