Anucha Browne leaves Manhattan Federal court back in 2007 at the end of the third day of her trial against Isiah Thomas for sexual harassment. Browne releases a statement about Thomas being re-hired by MSG.
Anucha Browne didn’t back down in her 2007 sexual harassment case against Madison Square Garden and Isiah Thomas, and she isn’t backing down now.
The day after MSG announced it was hiring Thomas as president of the WNBA Liberty and giving Thomas a share of the team, Browne, who won an $ 11.6 million jury award in her case and settled with James Dolan and the Garden for $ 11.5 million, released a statement in response to comments by both the Garden and Thomas on Tuesday attacking the jury verdict and disputing Browne’s “sordid” allegations against the Hall of Fame point guard and former Knick executive.
“In an attempt to re-write history, the Garden has issued a Statement about Anucha Browne Sanders’ (the name she went by during the case) lawsuit against MSG, Dolan and Thomas that is, at best, misleading and, at worst, a fabrication,” read Browne’s statement, issued through her lawyer, Anne Vladeck. “For example, the Garden describes what occurred to Browne Sanders as mere ‘allegations’ and further claims that these ‘allegations’ were “completely unrelated to (Thomas).”
In this court room skecth, then-Knicks president Isiah Thomas takes the stand in sexual harassment trial brought by Anucha Browne (l.) in U.S. District Court. (Sketch by Jane Rosenberg)
Browne went on to say that Thomas’ “self-serving denials” led the jurors to find that he “intentionally discriminated against (Browne Sanders) by aiding and abetting a hostile environment based on sex. . . .”
Moreover, the statement continued, “the 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, who described Thomas in her testimony as a foulmouthed bully who went on tirades at a moment’s notice, calling her a “bitch” and “ho” in private conversations, has been largely silent on the case since the settlement was reached in 2008, but clearly felt the need to respond to the Garden’s statement following its announcement that Thomas would be retuning to the fold.
Knick fans are cringing now that Isiah Thomas is back at MSG.
Hermann, Marc, A.
Thomas is in the news for all the wrong reasons back in his days as Knicks president.
Said the Garden: “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,” the statement read. “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.”
Thomas also said on an ESPN radio show Tuesday that the jury made no “findings” against him, putting the responsibility largely on the Garden.
“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.”
In fact, the jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan split the award into two sections, ruling that Browne was entitled to $ 11.6 million in punitive damages from the Garden and Dolan, $ 6 million of which were the result of the hostile work environment Thomas created and $ 5.6 million because Browne was fired for complaining about it.
Dolan is the chairman of Cablevision, the parent company of the Garden, Knicks and Liberty.
Thomas has returned to the Garden after a disastrous run as president of the Knicks from 2003-2008 and coach of the team from 2006-2008. Browne is now the NCAA’s vice president of women’s basketball.
She and her lawyer concluded her statement by saying:
“While it is not our practice to issue statements to respond to or correct the many erroneous comments over the years, the Garden’s recent statement is so beyond what any truthful report could say, that the record needs to be corrected. Sadly, it appears that those who do not learn from the past will be condemned to repeat it.”
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