MMA fighter charged with sexual assault

KELLY PEDRO, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

LONDON - Mixed-martial arts fighter Kasheem "The Dream" Peterson was training at the Adrenaline Training Centre in London when police walked in and asked to see him.

His coach, Tillsonburg-area native Shawn Tompkins, who trains fighters in Las Vegas, was teaching a seminar at the Dundas St. gym and fetched Peterson.

Tompkins was shocked when, minutes later, police handcuffed Peterson and led him away.

"I was horrified," he said Monday of the Saturday afternoon encounter.

"Anything that would cause police to come to our gym is horrifying. We're not that kind of people. I was just confused. I was just completely confused."

A 21-year-old woman, not from London, called city police to say she was sexually assaulted outdoors in the area of Clarke Rd. and Dundas St. at 6:30 a.m. Friday, said Const. Dennis Rivest.

He said the woman went to the hospital afterward.

"Her injuries are considered minor, but there's more than a physical injury in any type of thing like this," he said.

The woman and Peterson had previously met, Rivest said. Police charged Peterson, 28, with sexual assault, forcible confinement and choking someone with the intent of committing sexual assault.

Tompkins said when he heard what the charges entailed, he felt sick to his stomach.

"I really feel for the family and it's really unfortunate. I hope the world knows this is a personal thing, this is something that is with him. It has nothing to do with what we do or the team that we have," he said.

Tompkins said Peterson, who's based in Vegas and arrived in London about a week ago to train, left Thursday to go out on his own. Peterson seemed fine when Tompkins saw him Friday and Saturday, until police arrived.

The charges were news to Trey Bryant, who grew up with Peterson and got their martial arts fighting start together.

Bryant -- his parents are Peterson's godparents -- said Peterson, in his experience, is protective of women.

"In fact, he has an older sister, and I have three sisters that he has had close ties with; and he carries an (air) of 'over-protection' when it comes to women," he wrote through Facebook.

"What people see when they watch him in the ring is the 'Hyde' to his normal, 'Dr. (Jekyll)' demeanor."

With mixed martial arts rapidly growing in popularity, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced in August his government would officially sanction and regulate MMA, allowing professional bouts in Ontario.

Ultimate Fighting Championship has its first sanctioned card April 30 in Toronto before a sellout crowd at the Rogers Centre.

Peterson isn't scheduled to fight, but Tompkins said he travelled and followed the sport.

Peterson updated his Facebook status Saturday at 9 a.m. to say: "Eyes on the prize."

In a 2010 interview posted on adcombat.com, which says it posts the best fight news from around the world, Peterson bragged about a small role he had in the movie Radio, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris. In the same interview, he listed "networking and partying" as his hobbies. "They both

lead to happiness someway somehow," he wrote.

Under his personal motto, Peterson wrote Philippians 4:13, a bible passage that reads: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Peterson made a brief appearance in a London court Monday. Wearing a black "Team Tompkins" t-shirt, he politely told the justice of the peace he understood the charges against him.

Defence lawyer Brian Chambers asked for more time to review the case and to put together a possible release plan for a bail hearing.

Peterson is to make a video court appearance Tuesday.

A publication ban was placed on the identity of the complainant.

- With files from Jane Sims

kelly.pedro@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/KellyatLFPress


Videos

Photos