Bellator champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane files suit alleging sexual abuse by former school coach

Bellator women's flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane, her sister Mahina Macfarlane Souza and an unnamed woman filed a civil lawsuit last Wednesday accusing a former coach at a Hawaii private school of sexual abuse, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in Hawaii circuit court, alleges that former assistant basketball coach Dwayne Yuen abused the women when they were students at Honolulu's Punahou School between 2003 and 2006, beginning when Ilima-Lei was 12 years old.

The suit also lists Punahou as a defendant, alleging that the K-12 school ignored and "covered up" past reports of Yuen's behavior by the Macfarlane sisters.

According to the suit, the Macfarlane sisters were subjected to demands and offers of money from Yuen to perform sexual acts, sexual harassment, sexual advances, and the display and receipt of photos of the coach's genitals.

The suit says the Macfarlane sisters reported Yuen to Punahou administrators in 2004 or 2005 and "pled for the school's help and protection," to no avail. A 2018 school investigation into Yuen also didn't result in any action taken, according to the suit. Punahou "covered up, conspired, and swept the Macfarlane sisters' report under the rug," the suit alleges.

Ilima-Lei told ESPN that filing a lawsuit was the "last resort" after repeated requests to Punahou to hold Yuen accountable for his alleged actions. She said that Yuen was still coaching youth basketball, though not at Punahou, up until recently, and she felt she needed to come forward.

A request for comment from Yuen was not returned Monday.

In a statement, Punahou said it "stands with survivors of sexual abuse, and we have established a path for any survivor in our Punahou family to come forward and be supported with compassion and respect.

"Providing for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of each student is Punahou's highest priority. Since 2018, after retaining a nationally recognized expert in school safety, we instituted safety measures that include a rapid response team to handle any reports of abuse, a 24/7 hotline for abuse reporting, expanded sexual misconduct training and a student safety and security committee. We continue to dedicate ourselves to building the strongest culture of safety possible."

No criminal charges have been filed against Yuen. The lawsuit is seeking "general, special and punitive damages" from the defendants.

On Friday, two other women filed sexual abuse lawsuits against Yuen and Punahou. One of them, Shawna-Lei Kuehu, is a former University of Hawaii basketball player. She is accusing Yuen of sexually assaulting her on "many occasions" when she was a freshman and sophomore at Punahou. Her suit alleges that Punahou officials and coaches knew about Yuen's conduct, but it was only a temporary restraining order Kuehu's mother obtained against Yuen that stopped the abuse.