The CEOxNJPW Sex Offender Controversy, Explained

Over the weekend, Kenny Omega brought NJPW to Florida with an event at the CEO ’18 Fighting Game Championships in Daytona Beach. However, the event – which Omega booked and produced himself – was mired in unexpected controversy when news broke that the card included a registered sex offender.

What’s the Story?

The CEOxNJPW event kicked off with a dark match between Chasyn Rance and Aaron Epic. Rance, whose most significant claim to fame is a brief appearance on the VH1 reality show “Tool Academy,” was convicted in 2011 of lewd and lascivious sex with a minor – a second-degree felony in the state of Florida.

In a nutshell, here’s what lead to Rance’s conviction: In 2010, a California girl told the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that she had at least two sexual encounters with Rance in 2008 when she was 15 and visiting her father in Orlando. Rance was 25 at the time. While Rance’s conviction by definition concludes that he did not assault the girl, it is nevertheless a severe and morally reprehensible crime, and Rance’s name appears on sex offender registries.

It’s unclear who first found Rance’s name on the sex offender registry, but after numerous people brought up his felonious status to Omega on social media, Omega was forced to address the situation. In a series of tweets, he explained that Rance’s match was the only one on the card he did not book or produce, and he felt compelled to give the ring crew/wrestling school who helped him with the event “the opportunity to have a dark match … as a way to show [my] appreciation.” He further explained that he’d had no clue about Rance’s conviction, and stated that he’d “know better for next time to only [book] those I’m absolutely familiar/comfortable with.”

However, Omega’s finger-pointing and lack of an apology did not go over well, and he ended up tweeting another lengthy statement a few hours later in which he vowed to “personally provide refunds to anyone in attendance that couldn’t enjoy themselves because of [Rance’s inclusion].”

In an age where internet social justice mobs act as judge, jury, and executioner, this was the best that Omega could do to smooth things over. I think he eloquently handled the situation and, as he stated, now knows better for the future.

As for Rance, he’ll likely never work in the industry again. Unlike Rich Swann and Enzo Amore, Rance was convicted of the charges against him – not to mention he’s a virtual no-name. Whether all the promotions he’s worked with over the last seven years didn’t know about his conviction or didn’t care remains to be seen, but there’s no coming back from this. And that’s all that needs to be said on the matter.

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