Ex-US Olympic fencer Ivan Lee arrested on forcible touching, sexual abuse, harassment charges

Ivan Lee, a former U.S. Olympic fencer who served as chairman of USA Fencing, was arrested Monday in New York on charges of forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment, according to online court records.

Lee, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment held that same day at Kings Criminal Court in Brooklyn and he was released “with non-monetary conditions,’’ records show.

In December, USA Fencing announced Lee had been suspended as the organization's chairman for alleged conduct that would constitute a violation of the U.S. Center for SafeSport Code. Lee, who competed in the 2004 Olympics, resigned upon learning of his suspension, USA Fencing said at the time.

(SafeSport is an independent body tasked by Congress with protecting athletes in the Olympic movement.)

The incident cited in Lee’s arrest occurred Nov. 8 in a "college gymnasium,'' listed at the same address as the Long Island University-Brooklyn Athletic Center, according to a criminal complaint. At the time, Lee, a former police officer, was head coach of the men’s and women’s fencing teams at Long Island University-Brooklyn.

According to the criminal complaint, the complainant said Lee pulled them onto the ground and "smacked'' them "on the buttocks'' over their clothing without their consent. The incident occurred at about 8 a.m., according to the criminal complaint.

The complainant said the incident caused them to “fear further physical injury, imminent danger, and to become alarmed and annoyed,’’ according to the criminal complaint.

The complainant is a "young woman,'' according to attorney Jack Wiener, who said he is representing her on a pro bono basis.

Wiener said Lee engaged in other inappropriate behavior with his client at additional times and locations.

“My client had every reason to trust Mr. Lee,’’ Wiener told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday. “He is a former police officer. Was chairman of USA Fencing. A coach. If she could trust anyone, it should have been him.’’

Lee and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment from USA TODAY Sports.

On Thursday, SafeSport temporarily suspended Lee for "allegations of misconduct," according to the organization's centralized disciplinary database.

The suspension means Lee is prohibited from participating in any activity authorized by, organized by or under the auspices of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), USA Fencing stated in an email sent to its members Thursday.

SafeSport temporarily suspended Lee on Jan. 4 in upholding the USA Fencing suspension imposed Dec. 22, according to a copy of the USA Fencing email obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Lee appealed his temporary suspension and on Jan. 16 the Center lifted the suspension, USA Fencing wrote in the email.

In the same email, USA Fencing stated, "After further review and in light of new information, (SafeSport) has once again modified its temporary measures.''

Bryan Wendell, Director of Communications for USA Fencing, referred USA TODAY Sports to the email when asked for comment.

Dan Hill, a spokesman for SafeSport, said he could not comment on the matter, writing by text message, "all I can say is we don't speak about matters to protect the integrity of the investigative process.''

But speaking generally, Hill wrote by text message, "SafeSport routinely works with law-enforcement agencies, both providing them with information that has led to convictions, as well as cooperating when asked to allow their investigations to progress prior to ours. The Center's temporary measures are a tool to protect participants while these matters are investigated.''

A post on Lee's Facebook page states he "left" LIU-Brooklyn on Dec. 1. Dwight Smith, the school's current head coach for fencing, ascended to the position in January, according to his Long Island University online bio.

School officials have not responded to USA TODAY Sports' requests for comment on Lee.

Lee, elected chair of USA Fencing less than three months before his resignation in December, had distinguished himself in the fencing community as a competitor and a coach.

In 2001, as a member of the U.S. Junior World Sabre team, Lee became "the first man of African American descent to win a world fencing championship," according to his Long Island University online bio.

Ivan Lee in 2004.
Ivan Lee in 2004.

In 2004, Lee competed in the Olympics, finishing 12th in the individual sabre event and helping Team USA to a fourth-place finish in the team event at the Athens Games.

A five-time national champion, Lee was inducted into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame in 2014 and then began to focus on his coaching career.

In 2019, he was named head coach of the women's fencing program at LIU-Brooklyn and eventually took over the men’s program, too. Within two years of his arrival, the program had two All-Americans and a national champion.

Lee worked for the New York City Police Department from 2008 to 2022, according to city records.

He is due back in court April 4, according to court records.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ivan Lee arrested: Former US Olympic fencer facing multiple charges