Life coach Tony Robbins has been accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl at a Southern California camp in 1985, according to an investigation from BuzzFeed News.
Robbins, 25 at the time, was hired as a "star speaker" at the camp, and was seen by two other campers pinning back the teenager’s arms before kissing her forcefully. The alleged victim, who is referred to in the report only as "Elle," wrote a 2,400-word account of her experience, which BuzzFeed News obtained via her lawyers, alleging that Robbins also repeatedly groped her breasts in addition to kissing her without her consent.
In addition to Steffanie Scott and Eva Bush, the two eyewitnesses to the incident, BuzzFeed reported that nine other former campers and staffers said they were told directly about an inappropriate incident either by the alleged victim or by Robbins himself, and another former camper, Jennifer Munn, provided BuzzFeed with a diary entry in which she wrote that Robbins had "basically started to molest" a girl.
"Everyone knew about it," former camper Kraig Nicolls told BuzzFeed News. "And everyone was freaking out."
Two former counselors, both adults at the time, said they had reported Elle's claims to camp co-founders Bobbi DePorter and Eric Jensen, and one of the counselors, Tamara Drean, said that she had told DePorter that the camp had to report the incident to the police. However, Elle told BuzzFeed the camp subjected her to a "perverse kangaroo court" in which they sided with Robbins and told her he had simply been trying to hug her. DePorter and Jensen acknowledged they received a report, and held an informal mediation between Robbins and the alleged victim, but do not recall if they notified law enforcement.
Robbins, a self-help guru who has reportedly worked with Bill Clinton, Oprah, and Princess Diana, amongst others, denied kissing or groping her. His lawyers told BuzzFeed there was a "situation" at the camp but said it was a "non-issue," which was "addressed with the camp attendees, the young woman, and her parents, and no one suggested that there was a sexual assault." They added: "No sexual assault happened. Period."
According to California law, nonconsensual sexual touching is defined as sexual assault.
Though this is the first time this particular story has been reported, several other accounts of alleged sexual misconduct by Robbins have been previously reported by BuzzFeed News, all of which he has denied. In a Medium posts published just after BuzzFeed's most recent report, he and his spokeswoman announced that he is suing the outlet "following a premeditated and malicious campaign against me and my life’s work."