Lawsuit Alleges 2013 Incident at The Four Seasons Hotel
A bombshell lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court accuses James L. Dolan, the owner of the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers, as well as several other high-profile entertainment properties, of sexual assault. The accuser, massage therapist Kellye Croft, alleges Dolan sexually assaulted her following a session at The Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles in December 2013.
The incident is alleged to have taken place in the presence of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who Croft says also assaulted her that night. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual assault in 2020.
Croft says in the lawsuit that Weinstein lured her to the hotel under false pretenses, claiming she was there for a massage therapy session with an unnamed celebrity client. Upon arriving, she was led to a suite where she says Weinstein and Dolan were waiting.
Croft alleges Dolan proceeded to grope her against her will, at one pointing forcing her face into his crotch. Weinstein is accused of pulling down Croft’s pants and raping her as Dolan watched. The lawsuit claims hotel staff were aware of the incident but did nothing to intervene.
“The trauma Ms. Croft endured that night still haunts her a decade later,” states the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages from Dolan and Weinstein for sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.
Knicks, Rangers Owner Denies Allegations
Dolan has strongly denied the allegations through his lawyer, calling them “a transparent attempt to extort Mr. Dolan” for money.
“Simply put, they are false,” Dolan’s counsel said in a statement. “Had the accusations had even a shred of credibility, we would have been provided documentation years ago when the plaintiff first tried to extort Mr. Dolan for money.”
The NBA also issued a statement saying they were aware of the “deeply troubling allegations” against Dolan and would be “carefully monitoring the civil proceedings in this case.”
Dolan, 67, has been the chairman and CEO of the Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Knicks, Rangers and several other sports and entertainment entities, since 1999. He is known to be reclusive and has developed a combative reputation among fans and the New York media over the years.
The Knicks have struggled mightily during most of Dolan’s tenure, making just five playoff appearances since he took over. Both the Knicks and Rangers have among the highest valuations of any team in their respective leagues, however, with the Knicks topping the NBA at $6.1 billion in the latest Forbes franchise rankings.
Knicks Players, Coaches Decline Comment
Players and coaches for the Knicks declined to comment on the disturbing allegations against team owner Dolan when questioned by reporters on Wednesday.
“I just found out about all this. I don’t really know any details so I can’t say much,” said Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition.
All-Star forward Julius Randle took a similar stance, saying he was still processing the news.
“Shocking stuff if true. But right now I’m just focused on playing basketball and getting better as a team,” Randle said.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau, notorious for his tight-lipped approach with the media, unsurprisingly directed all questions about Dolan to the team’s front office.
The Knicks released a short statement saying only that the team is aware of the lawsuit and the allegations against Dolan, and will withhold further comment as the legal process plays out.
Team president Leon Rose, general manager Scott Perry and the rest of the Knicks basketball staff were not made available to address the situation.
What Happens Next
It remains to be seen how much impact, if any, the lawsuit against Dolan could have on the Knicks organization in both the short and long-term.
As the legal case works its way through court, which could take months or even years, Dolan will likely continue his role guiding the team’s operations. How hands-on he remains could depend on factors like public pressure and what further details emerge.
There have already been calls from advocacy groups and politicians for Dolan to relinquish control of the Knicks and Rangers until the disturbing allegations levied against him are resolved.
“These horrific acts, if proven true, would demonstrate that Mr. Dolan is unfit to lead these storied sports franchises,” said New York state senator Brad Hoylman.
The NBA and NHL have so far only released brief statements acknowledging awareness of the lawsuit while stopping short of any discipline or mandated leave of absence for Dolan. That could change depending on future developments.
Long-term repercussions are even more speculative at this point. Sponsors could potentially pull endorsements or advertisements related to the Knicks and Rangers should Dolan remain embroiled in a serious sexual assault scandal. The NBA also holds the authority to compel a team sale if an owner’s actions severely damage the league’s reputation.
For now the Knicks appear set to attempt business as usual, however difficult that may prove with their owner under intense public scrutiny. Their next home game at Madison Square Garden is scheduled for Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Table: Timeline of Key Events
|Alleged sexual assaults against Kellye Croft take place at Los Angeles hotel involving James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein
|Harvey Weinstein found guilty in landmark #MeToo case, sentenced to 23 years in prison
|January 17, 2023
|Lawsuit alleging 2013 sexual assault filed against James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein
|January 18, 2023
|James Dolan issues statement denying allegations
|January 18, 2023
|Knicks players and coaches decline to substantively comment
|January 18, 2023
|Advocacy groups, politicians call for Dolan to step down from Knicks/Rangers pending case outcome
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