I received the following rebuttal to the Corrine Harrington letter on Robert Morrison who was suspended by USAT via Safe Sport issues.  Mr. Whitworth is a friend of Mr. Morrison.

Everyone, please keep in mind Safe Sport is NOT a criminal legal process except for mandatory reporting.  One can be suspended by Safe Sport without ever being arrested.  I just don't think people really understand the process.  I personally think that while I appreciate that one could and should be loyal to their friends.  Get it. However, when one is dealing with a Safe Sport issue and one has children they are charged with protecting them.  Since this is not a USAT sanctioned event as far as I am aware, doesn't matter who does what when or where.  However, one should also not be surprised when others question the same decisions.

Here is the letter that came out this morning replacing the first draft I got last night.  I am always happy to post the other side.  For the record, as long as Mr. Morrison is not associated with any sanctioned USAT clubs, schools, events I am not aware that anyone is violating USAT or Safe Sport. If one, and I am not aware of this being the case, were having Mr Morrison involved in classes, tournament etc..  I would think that this probably ill-advised.  I have reached out to the email address I had for the original author Corrine, but have had no answer.

 

 

Rhodes Legal Group

 

918 South Horton St,

Suite 901

Seattle, WA 98134

Phone: 206-419-6483

Fax: 206-906-9230

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www.rhodeslegalgroup.com

Robert Rhodes, Lawyer

Norman Partington. Lawyer

Alexander Savojni, Lawyer

Patrick Kwan, Lawyer

Virginia Amato, Lawyer

 

 

 

March 20, 2018

 

                                                                                                                                        

To Whom It Concerns

 

 

Re:         Criminal Charges against Robert Morrison

               Defamation of Master Joe Whitworth | Demand for Retraction

 

To whom it Concerns,

 

Master Joe Whitworth has asked me to step in as counsel and address the defamatory statements published about him and his school in conjunction with the criminal prosecution of one Robert Morrison, formally of Lee’s Martial Arts for sexual communication with one student under the age of 18 and sexual intercourse with another female student under the age of 18.

 

As of date of this letter, these charges against this one time instructor were formally filed on August 26, 2016 and are still pending trial[1].  Master Joe and individuals, some who work in our local high schools as educators and security, filed letters of support in relation to Robert Morrison’s initial bail hearing, based on their knowledge and experiences with Robert Morrison, based on Robert Morrison’s flat and continued denial of any wrongdoing, their limited knowledge of the case, and the belief in the presumption of innocence that is fundamental to this country and democracy.  It is a fact that Robert Morrison’s career carried a lot of good will in the community prior to these accusations and he had a positive impact on a large number of people.  Given the mischaracterizations of statements so far, it is important to note that at no point does this statement condone or excuse any alleged criminal conduct or ignore the impact on potential victims.  Common questions for people put into the position Master Joe Whitworth was put in include:  How could he have done this?  Do I believe he didn’t do it?  Do I believe he did?  If he did, how did I not know?  It is hard to imagine, but if you were in this position what would you do?  What would you do if your father, mother, loved one or long time friend were charged with a heinous crime and denied it?  Would you walk away?  Would you remain loyal? Master Joe Whitworth and others in the community are facing with these very real questions and will continue to struggle with them as this matter finds its way to a conclusion in our criminal system.

 

Parents of children know they must reach out to and trust others to help them raise their children. Even in today’s somewhat disconnected world, parents and children seek out mentors and positive influences in the form of teachers, coaches, friends, extended family and neighbors.  Charges such as these are so corrosive to the fabric of our society because they lead good people into doubting the intentions of good men and women, of churches and their leaders, schools and their staff, martial arts studios and their Masters all because they want to protect their own and how do you protect yourself from something you cannot see or identify?  Although there have been significant advances in our ability predict the likelihood of these kinds of people in re-offending as well as identifying grooming behaviors, there are no hard and fast rules.  That said, Seattle’s Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress is considered a national leader in this area and has materials you can read[2] to educate yourself and educate others.  This is productive.

 

What is not productive is unchecked fear, hate, ignorance and bias.  Our laws in the State of Washington penalize[3] those who create anonymous emails to spread rumors, falsehood and harassment.  The laws of the State of Washington provide civil causes of action for those who would make statements to expose another to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, or deprive them of public confidence or social intercourse[4] based on false and damaging statements.  The laws in the State of Washington provide protection[5] to those who intend to harass others for no legitimate or lawful purpose.

 

A letter from a person claiming to be a women and purporting to be a parent of two former students of Robert Morrison, is attempting to connect, on a dark level, Master Joe’s character to that of Robert Morrison based on their long friendship that started in childhood, his willingness to allow Robert Morrison’s academy that was closed to be reopened and rebranded under his academy’s name[6] and his initial letter of support of Robert Morrison at his bail hearing.  In a calculated manner, this person, who does not sign or provide an address in the writing, is engaging in an effort not only to damage Master Joe Whitworth’s reputation and prospects, but those of the NWBBA, Washington United Taekwondo, and the Lee Championship team.  This person’s campaign is a reckless and illegal effort to graft existing allegations of misconduct against a former Washington Tae Kwon Do coach, Robert Morrison, onto Joe Whitworth and the Lee Championship team.  Mr. Morrison’s case only concerns Mr. Morrison and absolutely and definitively does not involve Master Joe Whitworth or his team in any way. This person’s smear campaign to somehow connect Master Joe Whitworth or his dojang to any alleged wrongdoing by Mr. Morrison is outrageous and the campaign not only appears to be an effort to hurt Master Joe Whitworth personally, but it also amounts to an effort to undercut support for our Washington Tae Kwon Do athletes.  The Northwest has a limited number of tournaments and this campaign is undermining one such tournament and it should not.  At present, Robert Morrison is in no way connected personally or financially to the Renton LMA.

 

With that in mind, Master Joe Whitworth makes the following demands.

First, Master Joe Whitworth demands all misstatements about him are to be removed by the party who produced them immediately.  Second, he demands an immediate and public retraction that he in any way profited from allowing his business’s name to be used by the female who took over Robert Morrison’s dojang.  To clear the air, Master Joe Whitworth’s decision to allow this was based on his concern for the students | athletes at Robert Morrison’s dojang and not out of concern for his finances or Robert Morrison’s for that matter.  He has asked me to publically state that he has not received one cent from this process and his decision was based solely on making sure that the kids who attended this academy based on the limited number of “fighting” academy’s in the south end were able to continue their training and promotions as Master Joe Whitworth believed and continued to believe that those children and their parents who are affected by the allegations against Robert Morrison should not be affected or have to pay on any level.  This decision was made in good faith with the student’s best interest in mind, their parent’s best interest in mind and the Washington State’s Tae Kwon Do community’s best interest in mind.  Why should any of these parties have to suffer or change their behavior?  Again, there was absolutely NO financial benefit for him to do this.  The truth is that Master Joe Whitworth should be applauded for putting the children and parents of this studio and the Tae Kwon Do community first.  Third, Master Joe Whitworth in no way condones or supports those who would prey on our children.  As a widower and father of two teenage children himself both who are black belts and affected by these defamatory statements, as a man who defines himself as a honorable Christian and has always tried to conduct himself to the moral codes he teaches, as a leader and long term business owner of a Tae Kwon Do studio, a true supporter of the sport of Tae Kwon Do, and mentor of thousands of children over the years, even implying he is predatory or approves of the allegations against Robert Morrison is defamatory, outrageous, insulting and frankly dangerous.  This person has tried to make this connection and this will cease immediately. Further publication or republications of these facts directly affect damages and therefore Master Joe Whitworth demands this person remove all content within his or her control immediately or identify themself and where they reside by writing a letter to this office and mailing it certified mail, return receipt requested within 10 days.  If this person wishes to stand behind their allegations and statements, they need to step up and out of the anonymity of the internet, publically declare who exactly they are and engage this matter in the public forum of the court system.  This behavior will stop or it needs to be zealously and thoroughly litigated in a public and recorded forum.  At this point, Master Joe Whitworth will accept nothing less.

 

If any party needs further communication on this topic, please direct any questions or communication in writing to this law firm’s address, with contact information, including a phone number and a return mailing address so an appropriate written response can be provided.  Otherwise, it is Master Joe Whitworth’s intention to proceed with his life as usual and appreciates any words of support in these difficult times.

 

 

 

Respectfully,

 

 

 

 

Robert D. Rhodes

Attorney for Joe Whitworth

 

[1] Review of court records on March 20, 2018 indicates this matter is rapidly approaching trial.  Until this matter is resolved, the police reports and their investigation are exempt from any Washington State public records request by law and per court rules so all interested parties, including Master Joe Whitworth, are left with the allegations, the probable cause sheet associated with the case, Robert Morrison’s denial and our country’s presumption of innocence.   It is simply untruth that one can access the police reports that are part of an active case and ongoing investigation.

[2] http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/sexual-abuse/general-information 

This link will lead you to a number of subtopics on the left that parents can and should read and familiarize themselves with if they are scared and want to know more.  The best way to prevent these kinds of crimes is to speak about these topics openly with your children and others and encourage your children to speak openly with you and others about them.  That said, these are not easy topics and we are fortunate to have this resource in this city.

[3] RCW 9.61.260 - Cyberstalking.

[4] A publication is defamatory per se (actionable without proof of special damages) if it “(1) exposes a living person to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy, to deprive him of the benefit of public confidence or social intercourse, or (2) injures him in his business, trade, profession or office.” Caruso v. Local Union No. 690, 100 Wash.2d 343, 353, 670 P.2d 240 (1983).

 

Life Designs Ranch, Inc. v. Sommer, 191 Wn. App. 320, 328, 364 P.3d 129, 134 (2015)

[5] RCW 10.14.020 - Civil Anti-Harassment Protection Orders prevent: "Unlawful harassment" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.”

[6] Master Joe purchased this academy as there is a limited number of Tae Kwon Do
“fighting” academies in the South End of Seattle and Master Joe wanted to make sure that the athletes who were left without a Coach when Robert Morrison was arrested had a gym to continue to train and graduate from.