Third Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Police Athletic League Brooklyn Martial Arts Program

(Brooklyn, NY –  February 18, 2021) A former student filed a third lawsuit against the Police Athletic League (“PAL”) relating to its martial arts program in the Canarsie neighborhood in Brooklyn.  According to lawsuit documents filed by a man identified as Anonymous BRR, martial arts instructor Ronald Schwartz sexually abused him in approximately 1973 through 1974.  The Verified Complaint chronicles reports of abuse, violence and even attempts to engage the student in group sex.  In addition, the lawsuit reports that Schwartz utilized marijuana and pornography to groom the students so that he could have sexual contact with them. 

The PAL martial arts program involving Schwartz conducted classes at the Glenwood and Bayview Housing projects as well as the New York Public Library – Canarsie Branch in Brooklyn.  At the time, Ronald Schwartz had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and had studied that martial art under Grandmaster Hyun ok Shin in Queens, New York.

The student identified as Anonymous BRR stated “at the beginning I really loved the martial art training.  My friends and I felt empowered and confident that we could protect ourselves.  Sadly, those positive feelings turned dark when Instructor Schwartz introduced us to pornography, marijuana, and then began touching us.  It didn’t take long before I lost interest in school and my life changed in a bad way that I have never overcome.  The PAL martial arts program was supposed to be a safe place for us kids.  It turned out to be a murky, perverted place that ruined quite a few lives.”

The student’s Minneapolis-based attorney, Patrick Noaker, says that “this case, and the two filed last week, illustrate that any setting that requires obedience to the leader without close supervision of that leader, creates an environment where predators thrive.  This has been true in the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church and many other youth-serving organizations.  This case confirms that the principles of honor and obedience in martial arts can be twisted and used to prey upon children when leaders are not supervised.” 

Schwartz’s abuse of the children in this program continued into the 1980’s when Ronald Schwartz was arrested and convicted on child sexual assault charges.  In addition, Freddy Gilstein, the PAL representative for this martial arts program was recently convicted of sexually abusing a girl under the age of 13 for sexual misconduct occurring years earlier.

The case is filed under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA), which allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits for damages, no matter when the abuse occurred.  Matthew Lombardi, a Manhattan attorney who also represents the student, reported that “This case is being filed under the New York Child Victims Act, which opened the courtroom doors to victims of sexual abuse.  This law is especially important in child sexual abuse cases where the victims are children who can’t understand the impact of the abuse until well into adulthood.”

This case is filed on the heels of two other sexual abuse suits involving PAL and Ronald Schwartz (sexual abuse lawsuit filed on 2-1-2021  and a sexual abuse lawsuit filed on 02-08-2021), the criminal conviction of a former Canadian Tae Kwon Do Coach for sexually assaulting a student in Toronto, Canada and reports of sexual abuse in the USA Tae Kwon Do program.

Contact:           Patrick Noaker cell (612) 839-1080,


Patrick Noaker is an attorney licensed to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Missouri, with offices in Minneapolis, New York and Chicago who has represented hundreds of survivors of sexual assault across the country.  Patrick is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has won multiple jury verdicts and settlements exceeding a million dollars.

Matthew Lombardi is the senior associate attorney with the law firm of Tolmage, Peskin, Harris & Falick in New York. Matthew is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, as well as the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts. Matthew sits on the Board of directors for the New York State Trial lawyers Association.