ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
78°
Partly Cloudy
H 90° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    78°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 70°
  • cloudy-day
    89°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 90° L 70°
  • clear-day
    90°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 94° L 74°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Florida ice rink banned skater for Iraqi heritage, suit claims

The Olympic dream of a Broward County ice skater has turned into an ugly dispute that has spawned a discrimination and defamation lawsuit against the West Palm Beach, Florida, skating rink where she once practiced.

Angela Aldahwi, a dual citizen of both the United States and Iraq, has filed suit against Palm Beach Ice Works in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, alleging that her daughter, Hyaat Aldahwi, was barred from the rink in 2013 when its owner, Lori Alf, learned that the teenage skater is of Iraqi descent and hoped someday to skate for Iraq in the Olympic Games.

Aldahwi says Alf orchestrated a campaign to intimidate her and her daughter during competitions, shunned them from the tight-knit skating community and subjected them to racist and obscene taunts, including references to the Aldahwis as "towel heads."

Alf, the suit claims, made comments to people in Hyaats peer group "to incite them to murder Hyaat andor Angela Aldahwi, with comments about the Aldahwis being ISIS and that they would end up in a ditch someday, meaning dead along the side of a road.'"

After the dispute became known, Alf hired a 6-foot-7-inch bodyguard to protect herself from what she told others could be an ISIS hit, the Aldahwis claim.

Alf denied the Aldahwis' allegations, saying they are baseless.

"Its extortion," Alf said in a brief telephone interview. "I never spoke to them."

Alf's attorney, Paul Ranis, said, "We deny we ever said those things. We believe when the truth comes out, we will prevail on all the claims."

Alf said Angela Aldahwi manages another rink in Pompano Beach, Glacier Ice and Snow Arena, and that that could be another reason for the lawsuit.

Aldahwi said she and her husband bought a small share in the Pompano rink in January 2016 to make sure Hyaat has a place to skate. Aldahwi added that she is president of the skating club at Glacier Ice and Snow, but she said she is not paid for her work at the arena, and she denied that her lawsuit is connected in any way to her co-ownership of Glacier Ice and Snow.

In 2014, after the Aldahwis said Hyaat Aldahwi was banned from Palm Beach Ice Works, the Aldahwis filed a formal complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, which investigates alleged violations of the state's civil rights laws. Specifically, the Aldahwis claimed that Alf violated state law in banning Hyaat from the rink, a public accommodation, because of her national origin.

A complaint to the FCHR must be made before a civil rights lawsuit can be filed, though a suit can be brought regardless of the agency's findings.

FCHR Executive Director Michelle Williams wrote in June of 2014 that her agency investigated the Aldahwi allegation and "determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that an unlawful public accommodation practice occurred."

Alf scoffed at that determination, saying the agency often makes such conclusions so cases can move forward in the legal system.

Ranis said "rulings by the FCHR are not binding on the court."

The Aldahwis filed suit in January 2015, alleging that their civil rights were violated and that Alf's behavior constituted negligent infliction of emotional distress.

In June of 2015, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen dismissed several counts of the Aldahwi lawsuit, ruling that the alleged behavior was not outrageous enough to meet the state standard for judicial action. The judge granted a motion for more clarity on other aspects of the allegations and gave the Aldahwis leave to amend their complaint.

The Aldahwis filed an amended complaint in October.

"I dont want this to happen to someones daughter or child again," Angela Aldahwi said.

In December, Ranis again filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

"These claims fail as a matter of law because the allegations in the amended complaint are duplicative of the previously dismissed allegations and do not allege outrageous conduct necessary to support such claims," the motion states.

Ranis has requested a hearing on the motion that has not yet been scheduled.

The Aldahwi suit names Palm Beach Ice Works, Alf and National Air Cargo Holdings, the parent company of a freight forwarding and logistics firm that does business with military and industrial clients. Alf, a National Air Cargo Holdings board member, worried that allowing Hyaat Aldahwi to skate at Ice Works could threaten Air Cargo contracts, according to the suit.

Air Cargos board directed Alf to ban Hyaat Aldahwi from the rink, according to the suit, which quotes Alf as saying: "We are not going to risk losing our contract because we have some Iraqi wannabe in our rink."

Ranis denied the Aldahwis account of why Hyaat was banned from the rink.

The Aldahwis said Hyaat was barred from the rink in January of 2013 after six months of training there without incident.

Hyaat Aldahwi began skating at age 2, when her father, Hayder Aldahwi, took her to Glacier Ice and Snow.

"He wanted me to try as many sports as possible," Hyaat said. "I don't think I ever wanted to leave and get off the ice."

Her mother said a dream quickly developed in her daughters mind.

"When Hyaat was very little, she said, One day Ill skate for Iraq. That was her dream."

Angela and Hyaat Aldahwi, who were both born in the U.S. and hold Iraqi citizenship through Hayder Aldahwi, decided to try to form one a skating team since Iraq doesnt have one. Angela Aldahwi, a sports psychologist, worked with the Iraqi Winter Sports Association, and Hyaat skated in international competitions for Iraq.

Both women say Iraqi Olympic officials embraced the idea of having a figure skating team compete in the games.

"She always used to say, 'I was the first Iraqi skater,'" Angela Aldahwi said.

Everything seemed to be on track for Hyaat to pursue her Olympic dream, Angela Aldahwi said. Then she and her husband gave their daughter a skating jacket for Christmas in 2012. The jacket had an embroidered picture of ice skates and the word "Iraq."

"Immediately upon seeing the word Iraq, Defendant Alf became belligerent toward the Aldahwis, and she announced that no skater would be allowed at the rink who was Iraqi," the suit claims.

Things came to a head in January 2013, when, according to the suit, an employee of Palm Beach Ice Works called Angela Aldahwi.

"You and your daughter are no longer allowed at Ice Works," the employee said. "You cannot train or participate in any activity."

A second employee told Angela Aldahwi they were being banned because Hyaat Aldahwi hoped to skate for Iraq, according to the suit.

Being barred from the rink wasn't just the loss of a place to skate, the Aldahwis said. It also meant losing access to Hyaat Aldahwis coach, who coached other skaters at the rink, one of whom was Lori Alf's daughter.

Hyaat Aldahwi said she continued skating, competing at various events, but "threats and abuse by the defandant continued," the Aldahwis' lawsuit states.

Hyatt, the suit claims, "experienced serious panic attacks, withdrawal, depression, lack of sleep, and loss of appetite," and her skating suffered.

"Hyaat is now petrified to skate in front of the Alfs," the suit states.

At one point, the lawsuit claims, when Hyaat and her mother walked into a rink, "people stated, referring to the Aldahwis, Look, here comes ISIS!"

"The Aldahwis inquired as to what they were talking about, and they stated, The Alfs told us about the lawsuit you have against them."

Ranis said the Aldahwis' suit does not spell out where, when and to whom those alleged comments were made -- points he has raised in his motion to dismiss the suit.

Hyaat Aldahwi said her friends in the tight-knit skating community felt they had a choice: Lori Alf or her and her mother. They chose Lori Alf, she said.

"When a former friend had a death in the family, Hyaat sent her a communication that expressed her condolences and included her name," the lawsuit states. "The individual wrote back, I do not know who this is."

Hyaat, now 18, said the experience was traumatic.

"I did lose a few friends over it," she said. "No one wanted to talk about it. No one knew how to talk about it."

Angela Aldahwi said she remembers telling her husband that their daughter had been banned from the rink.

"He said, 'What did you do?'" Angela Aldahwi said. "I said, 'Were Iraqi. Thats what we did.'"

After a recent fall during a competition where the Aldahwis said Alf watched Hyaat Aldahwi while she was on the ice, Hyaat Aldahwi told her mother she no longer wanted to skate competitively. Its been a decision her mother has struggled to accept.

"I said, 'You love the sport. Don't let someone take this away from you,'" Angela Aldahwi said. "She said, 'Mom, I cant do it. Its too much.'"

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

  • A terrified family watched from inside their home as bees swarmed their 45-pound dog.   Debbie Leonard tells WPTV that her teenage children let the family's dog Delilah out into their backyard last Wednesday. When the bees swarmed Delilah, Leonard says her children were afraid to open the door because of the number of bees outside.   Daughter Rebecca Leonard said through tears that Delilah was 'jumping up at the door handle and chewing on it, trying to get us to open the door.'   The Leonards say hundreds of bees swarmed the dog.   They took her to a veterinarian, where they found she'd been stung over 100 times. Delilah died in Rebecca Leonard's arms.   Debbie Leonard says a beekeeper found a feral beehive in a tree.
  • Tulsa bus riders will have service on Sunday starting July Second. Tulsa Transit will use the same routes as the Monday through Saturday service. The only difference will be that smaller buses will be used. Vision Tulsa sales tax money will be used to pay for the extra day of bus service.
  • In a surprise to many in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday postponed plans for a vote this week on a GOP health care bill, as internal divisions among Republicans burst into the open on the best way to overhaul the Obama health law, delaying any vote until next month at the earlies. Here is what’s next on the health care front: 1. No vote until after the July Fourth break. The plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was to have a final vote on a GOP health bill by this Friday at the latest. Instead, the new plan is to come up with some deals and secure the 50 votes needed for passage in July. “I think this is a good decision,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who expressed optimism that a vote could take place the week of July 10. “We’re so close,” Perdue added. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is Congress only feels the pressure to act right before a vacation break – and that happens July 28. 2. Some not so subtle GOP messages. One thing that was striking were the statements issued by several GOP Senators – after the vote had been delayed – as several Republicans waited to publicly pronounce their opposition and concerns. For Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), it was the level of Medicaid spending. Maybe the biggest surprise was a tweet from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) – who wasn’t on anyone’s radar – that he was opposed to the bill as it currently stands. To me, that’s a canary in the coal mine for broader GOP concerns about their health care bill. The Senate healthcare bill missed the mark for Kansans and therefore did not have my support. — Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) June 27, 2017 3. Some Republicans sounding some odd notes. Along with the statement from Sen. Moran, another post-delay item deserves a note, from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). “The first draft of the bill included hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the affluent,” Lee said in a statement, which sounded more like something that a Democratic Senator might say, rather than a very conservative Republican. health111 4. Who can McConnell peel off on health care? While various GOP Senators said they opposed the Republican health plan, they also included the caveat that they don’t like the way it is right now. Things could change in coming days and weeks in order to get someone to vote “Yes.” But for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), his message in a telephone town hall to voters back in the Silver State on Tuesday night was that he doesn’t expect major changes in how the GOP bill would deal with the Medicaid program. “I do not believe that Ronald Reagan would have supported this health care bill,” Heller said. I’ll put him down as a “No” for right now. 'This just shows you they don't have the votes right now…and they can't count on mine going forward.' — Heller on GOP postponing vote — Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) June 28, 2017 5. But don’t declare the bill dead just yet. Remember, the House came back from several near-death experiences on health care in March and April, and still managed to get something approved in May. So, just because the Senate has thrown a tire does not mean that the entire bill is going into the Legislative Ditch. Speaker Paul Ryan said a few hours before the Senate got the chain wrapped around the axle that he wouldn’t bet against his Senate counterpart. The Majority Leader will be tested now, and we’ll see how Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) performs in the spotlight. Ryan: 'I would not bet against Mitch McConnell…I have every expectation the Senate will move this bill.' — Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 27, 2017 Stay tuned.
  • Shoppers at a Walmart in Cocoa, Florida, expressed concern after learning that at least 17 registered sex offenders, some designated as sexual predators, listed the store as their home address. >> Read more trending news  State law allows homeless sex offenders to use the address of the closest physical address for their registration. Most of the sex offenders listing the Walmart as their home address likely live across the street in a homeless camp set up in a wooded area, police said. Mother, and Walmart shopper, Heather Poole said she couldn’t believe so many sex offenders lived in such close proximity to a place children and families regularly visit. “We go there, like, 10 times a week,” Poole said. “We literally live right down the street. “It’s pretty scary, you know? We have kids and, you know, you don’t want (the sex offenders) being around and you don’t know who it is.” In a statement, Walmart said that the company goes to great lengths to keep shoppers safe. Walmart admitted, though, that it did not know about the homeless sex offenders using the Clearlake Road store as their home address. Walmart’s full statement: “We work to maintain a safe environment for our customers and associates. It’s disturbing to learn that convicted felons would list our store as their residential address. We condemn such a practice and must refer any other questions to local law enforcement.” According to the Cocoa Police Department, after registered sex offenders are released from prison, officers verify the address listed on their paperwork and check on the individual again in six months.
  • You've almost certainly HEARD of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But Newsweek decided to delve into the little known day-to-day life of being a dictator.  They say Kim is no workaholic like his father, and despite many appearances and parades, he likes to relax and spend lavishly. They say state spending on luxury goods like alcohol, electronics, and high-end clothing, has nearly doubled to $645 million per year during his tenure. Kim tends to indulge on wine and cheese, they say, and actually had to cancel appearances at one point for health and weight problems. He has a wife, but she's rarely seen, and it's believed he has a daughter, but that's not confirmed. He has the main Central Luxury Mansion but also spends a lot of time at what Newsweek calls a palatial complex on the coast, which Dennis Rodman describes as a 7-star party in Hawaii, but Kim “is the only one there.” You can read more from Newsweek here.