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1/21/13 4:44 AM
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Cameron Earle

WARNING, Very long read, a little graphic at times.

Forever when rape and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are mentioned, the name Cameron Earle will always come up. Although close to the situation I've offered little exposition over the years. Recent events in our community, plus some brave souls eloquently offering up personal accounts relating to the matter have prompted me to write. What light if any this sheds on the situation I do not know, I am merely recollecting my version of the events and history of Cameron Earle, if it helps someone or anyone I am grateful.

Let me skip to the ending and state something very clearly right now. This article is not meant to excuse or exonerate Cameron Earle in any way. I find rape to be the utmost of deplorable acts, I abhor the notion of the strong preying upon the weak as being everything against my core values. I do not believe Cameron Earle has any place in polite society any longer and I doubt that he will ever be allowed to be a free man again.

If you don't know who Cameron Earle is, know that of his generation he was potentially one of the most talented and dangerous American Jiu Jitsu competitors of all. Competing in the middleweight category, he basically torn through the lower ranks with such a vengeance that coaches sometimes withdrew their students rather than face him. At the higher levels he was not undefeatable, but often defeated other high level competitors with such ease he was dubbed as a fighter who intimidated other fighters. He's a guy within his weight class who managed to defeat even the legendary Marcelo Garcia two out of three contests. Much evidence of his prowess is available online and on video, many of the long time members of the community will attest to his abilities in competition.

Personal perceptions of him off the mat and in the academy often varied. I'm sure plenty of people will come forth and say Cameron was either "off" or flat out didn't like him, and he had a reputation for hurting people on the mat and getting into trouble off the mat. If he was your friend it was easier to look past personal faults and dismiss them as quirks and if he was your friend he was a very loyal friend, but I don't think there is anyone who knew him that wouldn't say he didn't have a screw loose. I think of him as a savant, incredibly talented in Jiu Jitsu, a very good artist, but definitely lacking in other areas, such a sense of how to take care of himself.

A little personal history in that Cameron Earle never met his actual birth father. Rumor has it he was a cat burglar or something like that from back East. His mother mentioned it a few times, but also purposely withheld information, exactly how reliable she might be is up for debate. An Chinese/Vietnamese immigrant herself who fled during the war, in my encounters with her it's hard to tell whether her quirks are cultural impasses or a less than solid grip on reality at times. Interactions I witnessed between mother and son were strange to say the least. A lot of inappropriate yelling for certain. I remember one time Cameron coming home and showing her a medal he won at a tournament and she beamed with pride, and followed with a compliment saying "now I'm so glad I didn't have that abortion!" Her ex (not Cameron's natural father, but the one whose last name he took) apparently used to beat her and the Earle boys, and because of the situation Cameron spent the majority of time in foster care.

When he first entered into Ralph Gracie's academy around 1997 it was apparent from the first day there was something different about him, and his talent level was recognized right away. He wasn't brand new to grappling when he walked in the door. Apparently a few month in LA training at Gokor's academy, and sometime on the mats at SJSU Judo before he found out about Ralph's academy, but he was already hanging with some of the blue belts on his very first day of training. Don't forget that, blue belts were rare and mythical creatures at that time, even a 120 pound could whip Mike Tyson in a street fight. Ralph quickly saw the potential in Cameron and soon he was training everyday in what I believe was the most talented room in the United States at that point.

It was in this time that Cameron and I bonded, like so many of the other men in that room (and it was pretty much exclusively a male club). For the most part I think of the mats at Ralph Gracie Mountain view from about 96-99 as some of the best times of my life, and I'm sure many of the others from that era would agree. Cameron had an unreal dedication to the art and the place. An example: at the time he was living in South San Jose and he didn't have a car, so getting to and from practice was usually three bus rides each way if he couldn't hitch a ride with someone from the academy. Deciding it was too detrimental to his training, Cameron came up with a plan to sleep in a refrigerator box across the street so he could be the first and last one at every practice.

I tell this story even now. A fighters house is great and all, but how many people would be willing to sleep in a cardboard box to get more access to training? More so, what chance to think that a casual hobbyist would have beating someone willing to sacrifice that much for their training. You think you have a chance against someone willing to sleep on the streets? Mind you this was a point that MMA was still underground and even illegal, competing in Brazil was a far off dream so I'm not sure what anyone of planned to do with our training or what was our motivation. (In this context I'm not always sure of it now).

Cameron did this for about a week before Ralph got wind of this, took pity on Cameron and let him sleep in the academy. Eventually, when I got an apartment close by (on the legendary warehouse which is it's own story). Cameron "invited" himself in to live in my living room. It was cheaper than an alarm I figured, the area had some sketchy characters around but no one was going to mess with Cameron.

Again, Cameron was by no means a saint and I am not trying to paint him in a sympathetic light, but rather offer some background story for what comes ahead. There were definitely some in the academy who didn't like him, and he definitely had the capability to be more than rough. Outside of the academy he was pretty quick to fight. Not necessarily looking for trouble but never one to shy away from it either. He had a sense of honor, twisted as it may be and at least in his mind he was always justified. Threaten him or someone? He'd likely break your arm. Hit your girl at the club? Cameron was likely to put you to sleep. You hung out with Cameron for any length of time, you had a fight story or several of them.
1/21/13 4:45 AM
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Looking back, it is somewhat easy to glamorize the street fighter aspect, and I'll admit to falling for that myself for a time. The idea of being able to kick anyone one's ass in the bar is somewhat romanticized, and sometimes the street fighter is idolized. Nowadays it's an ability I hope to never have to call upon again and I'm reluctant to even discuss those times now. I will say that it has been proven over and over again that even if you think you're the baddest man in the room, at some point you will go down, you will get taken out, and there's always someone bigger and badder than you.

And even if you're consistently the last man standing so to speak, you really aren't because the law and or karma will eventually get you. Cameron got the law first, it's impossible in this society to fight as often as he did and never have any repercussions for it. Cameron has multiple arrests by never a rap sheet, cases never stuck based on the evidence but he did have a rep among law enforcement here. Follow any person who thinks there above the system for a long enough period of time and it never ends well. Prove me wrong on that point but I think history will show I'm right.

Cameron was also known as a bit of womanizer. With his looks, confidence and I suppose animal level of charm he had no problem walking into a room and walking out with the prettiest girl in the room. At one point, even very recently I dismissed them as being pretty and dumb but that's not really fair, he got would get some really good girls sometimes. I'm not sure about the ones who would stick around with him however, and he often had multiple girlfriends at a time, sometimes they even knew about each other. I'm no psychiatrist but I'm not sure if his relationships with women were doomed to be skewed by his upbringing or there was something hardwired in him that had to cause chaos. The sweet girl who would do everything for him and asked for nothing in return he couldn't handle, but the raging psycho who scream and slam things about, that was something. I would tell him that this pattern definitely disturbed me, I didn't think it was good for him, but I really had no desire to talk to the girls in question most of the time.

I'm sure all of you aware of "guy code" and if your friend is messing around on his girl it's guy code for you to be silent. I'm naturally an honest guy so that never sat too well with me. If a woman caught her man cheating I have no idea why she would stick around, and I usually got around my discomfort by engaging Cameron's parade of girlfriends as minimally as possible, and avoided hanging out with Cameron when he was with a female whenever I could. There were a few that lasted seemingly a long time, but most of them would be gone very quickly, and believe me, there were a lot of them.

Stepping out of this story right now for those of you who know how this ends, I've sometimes wondered if there was a correlation between cheating, a general attitude on women and rape. I'm not sure. I've known a few people who could be described as a bit scummy when it comes to women who would never think about raping someone, while at the same time the seemingly upright and trusted member of society capable of disgusting rapes. I'm not condoning either scenario by the way or pretending to have an easy answer on this. But something that needs to be said, in the research I've done on the subject (and I have) is that RAPE IS NOT A MATTER OF SEXUALITY. RAPE IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE. Rape is often more about holding power over someone than sexual gratification. And it goes without saying that RAPE IS NEVER, EVER ACCEPTABLE.

Cameron did face a domestic violence charge at one point. That alone would make me question my friendship with him, but I didn't figure on him actually doing it. More on the evidence presented to me as opposed to my friendship (I'd be naive if I didn't say that didn't affect my opinion). Also the fact that this was a girlfriend I really didn't like. She was with Cameron AFTER she discovered he had two other girlfriends, and all three of them confronted him at the same time. She was also responsible for my losing my cat and the very last street fight I had ever gotten in. But more so was a police report that she said that Cameron held her down throttled her and bet her for a period lasting minutes, but didn't have a mark or a bruise on her. This was a tall willowy girl who was a 110 pounds at most, if Cameron had indeed done to her what she said I'm certain it would leave a mark. The police arrested Cameron at the en force, they literally sent the SWAT team to get him and shot his (our) dog in the process. The girl later recanted her story and the case was dropped because of lack of evidence, and Cameron finally stopped seeing this girl after that.

When Cameron was arrested on the initial attempted rape charge it was initially hard to believe. Again, not because he was a a saint (and I hope I've not portrayed him as such), but because the case seemed pretty ridiculous). He was arrested and brought into interrogation, later on I had a few police offer friends look at the transcript and they told me it read more like a person who was bewildered than anything else.
1/21/13 4:46 AM
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To clarify, there were initially two separate cases against Cameron. These cases and reports are archived and publicly available, search for Cameron Lee Earle born 1977. I will offer a quick summary to each case below before my reaction to each of the charges and Cameron's alibi.

The first and far more serious was the attempted rape charge. Early morning a girl was loading her car in a public parking lot for work and was attacked by knife wielding assailant. The assailant apparently tried to drag her into her car but she managed to fight him off, he then jumped into his truck and drove away. The assailant was described as tall, slightly built and speaking in broken spanish. Two weeks after the fact she saw Cameron in a parking lot, and convinced he was the one who attacked her followed him to an address, then got her brother who called the police.

I have no doubt this poor girl was assaulted. Whether the assailant was Cameron was a different matter. First it's very important to note that he wasn't the first person she identified, she had followed and called the police on someone else the week prior. Secondly, Cameron doesn't fit the description of being slight or Mexican (he's pretty well built and half asian) and I put his spanish on par with Beavis and Butthead's in that episode they almost get kicked out of school. There was a sketch done that could have resembled him, but no mention or recollection of one Cameron's most prominent features, his gnarly cauliflower ears. And finally, as even Cameron's biggest detractors would admit too, the idea of an "attempted rape" by Cameron seemed ludicrous. The girl was described as being small in stature. There is little doubt in my mind someone as well trained as Cameron would have little trouble controlling an untrained female who was much weaker than he was.

The second case was indecent exposure, and apparently Cameron flashed his genitals to a girl as he was driving by, calling out for her to come here.

In this case there was little doubt that this was Cameron, his car (a buick with the punisher logo painted on the hood) was way too distinct and he admitted to being this person. His explanation however was that instead of calling to the girl he was looking for his dog (Cameron had multiple dog which he loved but did not keep track of very well and they often got out). As far as flashing he claimed he was peeing out of his car which is weird, but not unheard of for him. (He actually once pointed out a bottle of urine in his car as I rode with him, much to my disgust).

When the charges and arrest came out the academy was initially supportive of him because we believed him to be innocent on the basis of mistaken identity and some incredible stupid (for anyone besides Cameron) circumstances. This wasn't just close friends and fans assessment of the situation but even folks who didn't like Cameron and the off the record opinion of a few police officers. His bail was set high, and Ralph himself even initially fronted the bail money until Cameron's girlfriend at the time could raise it, and one of his students even put up his house as collateral. We got him out just in time to compete in ADCC 2005 where he turned in a decent performance, for a man who spent the month prior in jail. Although I saw and talked to Cameron during this time, it was less frequently than years past when were near constant companions as he had long since moved out of my apartment (and I had moved in with my then girlfriend) and was splitting time between girlfriend and students. I was the best man at his wedding, a really quick affair in Las Vegas to a different girl he had only met a month prior.

Cameron was out on bail for sometime as he was fighting the case, which actually took awhile to come to trial and he had some high profile matches in that time with mixed results. He had a public defended on the case, and the strategy was to plead no contest on the lesser indecent exposure charge, and not guilty on the attempted rape charge. The cases were actually combined in court, and after about a week trial Cameron was found guilty on both charges. The judge did not take him into custody right away, but scheduled the sentencing for a month later. So Cameron then skips town.

Which was about the shittiest thing you could do. Firstly, his student's house is on the line, which is a terrible thing to do to a friend. Also, as Cameron and I were close so every one assumed I had something to do with his running, while the God honest truth is that I had no idea where he was. I did tell people I didn't think he was smart enough to stay inconspicuous for too long however (remember what i said about him being practically a savant). I actually tried to find him myself during this time (what I would do with him if I caught him I'm not entirely sure). He was eventually picked up in Oregon going by the name Ryan Garcia (Ryan Gracie Marcelo Garcia) while training at some dojo up there. Word is he tried to pass himself off as a new student, which was quickly figured out and an even darker rumor is that the knew who he was but let him train because he was just too valuable. An interesting coincidence is he got picked up the day before I got my black belt, and tried to call me that morning, to say that day is among the most memorable of my life is an understatement.

I did eventually talk to Cameron on the phone, but failed to see him when he brought back to San Jose. I was more than a bit pissed at him for putting me and everyone else through this, especially when did nothing but try to help him. Furthermore, I still believed him to be innocent (at least of the attempted rape) at this time and figured he could have appealed the case. He could have done a lot of things but he picked the dumbest, shittiest thing to do and it made it very hard to defend his character at this point. The judge was pretty pissed also and gave him the maximum sentence which was about seven years I think. I was still steaming until I finally decided to go see him at jail, by that point he was already transferred into the prison system.

We did keep up correspondence through letters, him about his daily routines and me about news from the outside. About a year later, his case is actually heard and conviction is overturned by the California State Supreme Court. This was a pretty landmark ruling in the judicial system because to my knowledge this had never happened in California before for these types of charges. It's also worth noting that the reason wasn't because they thought Cameron was necessarily innocent, but because combining two separate charges from two separate incidents in one trial was grossly unfair I believe what ruling said.

I got a call from a reporter from the San Jose Mercury news and I'm initially elated (again, I had thought Cameron innocent this whole time) when he dropped this bombshell on me: that Cameron's DNA proved a match for a cold case for rape unrelated to these two cases. Apparently a man masked man broke into some poor woman's house on Christmas Eve, raped her knifepoint, ejaculated in her hair and stole a coffee pot. The DNA turned out to match Cameron Earle's. Worst feeling ever, and however I rationalized his not being responsible for the first two instances, there was no way I can refute DNA, with this evidence there is no doubt in my mind that he is guilty.
1/21/13 4:47 AM
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When they brought him back to San Jose I visited him, which is the first time I had seen in him several years at that point. He was a shell of the man I had known from before and moreover when I looked in his eyes I knew, really knew he was guilty. I'm not an emotional guy, but after leaving the jail I sat in my car and probably cried my eyes out for a good ten minutes. Breaking the news to Cameron's mother was probably the next hardest thing i've ever had to do in my life. Although I am in touch with his family, this was the last correspondence of any kind I've had with Cameron Earle since then.

Cameron is serving 25 to life and I honestly don't believe he will ever get out, nor do I think he has a place in polite society any more. I'm reading some of the comments on the recent threads about who will be raping who in prison, but I also have heard that Cameron has been beat down pretty severely in there, to the point he is missing most of his teeth now. And if a guy like Cameron Earle a guy who was described as the fighter who intimidates other fighters can get beat down, the two in custody now are going to get eaten alive.

Since all this I've often thought very hard about the role of Jiu Jitsu and training in shaping one's character. I think cases like Cameron's, or the New Year's Eve case are obviously more of the extreme exceptions rather than the rule, and decent, normal folks are not going to see this coming. I don't think the training environment would have prevented or are responsible in either case, sometime you just have crazy and you have evil and sometimes it hides well. But at the same time if you believe that martial arts are to make you a better person you can't have the training environment completely blameless as well. It's really tough to say and I'm not going to say I have a definitive answer on that.

All I can comment on is what I've learned, how I conduct my business and carry myself, and how I allow things to go on in my own school. I'll maintain that I am most interested in developing and associating myself with quality human beings as opposed to anything else. If we're going to compete I was to win of course, but I don't have a win at all costs mentality and the quality of our victories, how we carry ourselves, what we gain from it other than a medal is more important to me because ultimate I put the art and people in it over those types of things. It's not an exact formula but I think development of character has something to with it and believe in an overall "bigger picture" in terms of development in BJJ and in life. I want people to represent us well on and off the mat, I want people to hold themselves to a high standard.

I pray for the victims frequently, and hope they have found healing and are able to carry on with their lives.

I pray for the people who were around Cameron and supported him, because we are to some degree victims ourselves.

I pray that we as society and our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community in particular can take steps so that this can never happen again. Again, I abhor the strong preying on the weak. I think that rape is the ultimate perversion of our ideals as martial artists and human beings.

I pray for Cameron Earle as well, because although I don't believe he should ever be a free man again, I hope he finds some sort of honest salvation.

1/21/13 5:25 AM
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respect to you gumby....

i hope you feel even more closure for getting this off your chest.

i've visited your place back in '11 and you've got a great thing going. you're a solid dude w/ solid people around you...

1/21/13 5:40 AM
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Thank you.
1/21/13 5:43 AM
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Sir Taps
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Thanks for sharing Gumby.

1/21/13 6:45 AM
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Tom Lawlor
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Great posts Phone Post
1/21/13 6:55 AM
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Thank you for taking the time to write that. Very interesting read. Phone Post
1/21/13 7:39 AM
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Wow Phone Post
1/21/13 7:51 AM
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Thanks for that, Gumby. I didn't know all of that, basically just knew the BJJ stuff. It's very hard to see talent like that go to waste.
1/21/13 7:57 AM
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Very deep, very heartfelt. It gives a lot to think about. Phone Post
1/21/13 8:16 AM
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Also, I work for the Correctional industry. The thing about prison that you cannot forget is there is ALWAYS another person willing to fight. A person like you describe cameron to be I am sure would have picked or been involved in fight after fight. he probably even won most. But eventually, going back to your point the law or karma catches up with you. In jail the law is a whole lot different. The prisoners have their own law and their own brand of justice ESPECIALLY regarding sex offenders. We all know bjj is really only good at one on one weaponless. It would only be a matter of time until a man like cameron was broken. Phone Post
1/21/13 8:28 AM
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Thanks for taking the time. That was very well written and I appreciate sharing this with us. Phone Post
1/21/13 8:36 AM
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Thanks for sharing Phone Post
1/21/13 8:49 AM
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That must have been tough to write. Thanks bro. Phone Post
1/21/13 9:12 AM
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Tyler Bishop
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read the whole thing. enjoyed the piece.
1/21/13 9:31 AM
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Thanks for sharing that. Phone Post
1/21/13 9:47 AM
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Thanks Gumby

1/21/13 10:12 AM
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Thanks for sharing, heartfelt story.
1/21/13 10:24 AM
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Hywel Teague
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Fascinating insight, glad you could give us an account of a story I have heard about but never in detail.
1/21/13 10:31 AM
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Everyone here should vote Gumby up. This post has more substance in it than 99% of the others on this board. Phone Post
1/21/13 10:51 AM
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Edited: 01/21/13 11:27 AM
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Thanks for sharing your perspective. I really like your last words where you state that one of your main concerns/goals is to only train with quality indivisuals. I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, I have seen instructors willing to teach almost anyone, no matter his/her demeanor/character. There have been some fairly shady people in BJJ over the years, and I blame the culture of thugness that was present earlier on. I left a club because i did not like some of the people that were being trained.

I think in Cameron's case, if we all held ourselves to a higher standards, he would have not lasted as long in BJJ as he did. I think the signs of 'shadiness' and criminality were there earlier on. It's a double edged sword, some people hope to use BJJ to make people better citizens than they were before the entered the sport, but I am not sure this is the case for the most part. Ryon and Rener Gracie discuss this in their video on the situation.

1/21/13 11:00 AM
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Very big thanks for writing that. Phone Post
1/21/13 11:07 AM
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