Anucha Browne, the former New York Knicks executive who filed a sexual harassment suit against the Knicks’ then-coach, Isiah Thomas, in 2007, is responding to statements made by Thomas and Madison Square Garden, the team’s home stadium, discrediting her allegations now that Thomas has been named president of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the New York Daily News reports.
Because a jury ordered Madison Square Garden and James Dolan—the chairman of MSG—and not Thomas to settle with Browne for $11.5 million, Thomas and MSG have interpreted that ruling to mean that Thomas was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Executives at MSG maintain that they don’t believe that Thomas did or said what Browne claimed, including calling her a “ho” and a “bitch” in private conversations and, according to the Daily News, conducting himself as a “foulmouthed bully who went on tirades at a moment’s notice.”
“We did not believe the allegations then, and we don’t believe them now. We feel strongly that the jury improperly and unfairly held Isiah Thomas responsible for sordid allegations that were completely unrelated to him, and for which MSG bore responsibility,” a MSG statement reads. “In fact, when given the opportunity, the jury did not find Isiah liable for punitive damages, confirming he did not act maliciously or in bad faith. We believe Isiah belongs in basketball, and are grateful that he has committed his considerable talent to help the Liberty succeed.”
Browne shot back with her own statement, saying that MSG’s understanding of the settlement is inaccurate: “The Garden’s recent statement is so beyond what any truthful report could say, that the record needs to be corrected.”
Her statement went on to point out that nearly all the jurors found that Thomas did need to be held responsible for promoting a hostile work environment for women: “[T]he Garden’s suggestion that the jury somehow exonerated Thomas by failing to award punitive damages against him is simply untrue. To the contrary, six of the seven jurors voted to assess punitive damages against Thomas personally. Had the defendants not settled after the verdict, Thomas would have had to face a retrial on that issue.”
Browne also warned in her statement that if MSG and Thomas continue to put the message out there that a jury did not acknowledge Thomas’ wrongdoing, “those who don’t learn from the past will be condemned to repeat it.”
On Tuesday Thomas maintained his innocence on an ESPN radio show. “When the jury had an opportunity to fine, they fined Madison Square Garden,” Thomas said. “I was not liable or personally held for anything. The jury found no findings. Anyone who’s vetted this, has looked at it, has come out and found that—as the jury found—that there were no findings in terms of Isiah Thomas.”
Read more at the New York Daily News.