James Dolan, the executive chairman and CEO of MSG Sports as well as owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, has been accused of sexual assault and trafficking in a lawsuit filed on January 16th, 2024. The lawsuit connects Dolan to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Lawsuit Alleges Decade-Old Abuse
The lawsuit was filed by Kellye Croft, a massage therapist who previously worked with musicians and athletes. In the suit, Croft alleges that Dolan sexually assaulted her following a Philadelphia Eagles concert in August of 2014. She claims that Dolan introduced her to Harvey Weinstein the next day and pressured her into providing them both massages and other sexual favors over the next several years in order to not damage her business.
The details of this case remain unclear and Dolan has denied all allegations through a spokesperson, stating he intends to vigorously defend himself. However, if substantiated, the accusations could have major ramifications.
Dolan’s History of Controversy
While this lawsuit marks the first accusation of sexual assault against Dolan, the Knicks owner is no stranger to controversy. Over his decades overseeing MSG Sports teams, Dolan has faced criticism for mismanagement, clashes with fans and media, and enabling workplace harassment.
Some of Dolan’s most notable missteps include:
- Banning Knicks legend Charles Oakley from Madison Square Garden over an altercation with security
- Feuding publicly with Knicks season ticket holders
- Facing multiple allegations of workplace harassment and discrimination under his watch
Dolan is a lightning rod for frustration with the poor performance of his sports teams. The Knicks have won just one playoff series since 2001 despite having the highest team valuation in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Rangers Stanley Cup drought sits at 29 seasons and counting.
This new lawsuit threatens to further erode Dolan’s standing as MSG Sports boss.
Connections to Harvey Weinstein
While shocking, the connections drawn between Dolan and Harvey Weinstein are perhaps unsurprising in retrospect. Weinstein was a prominent Broadway and film producer based primarily in New York City throughout his career. It’s likely he crossed paths with Dolan regularly through entertainment circles.
Weinstein became the face of the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse in 2017 after bombshell reports revealed decades worth of sexual assault and harassment allegations against him. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
By linking Dolan to Weinstein as alleged partners in her abuse, Croft’s lawsuit echoes other troubling #MeToo cases where powerful men assisted each other in preying upon women.
What Happens Next?
Dolan remains owner as well as CEO and Executive Chairman of MSG Sports. Whether he faces any consequences in either role over these allegations remains to be seen.
The NBA and NHL have not released any statements related to Dolan or the lawsuit as of now. As privately owned franchises, the leagues have limited options for removing owners.
However, sponsors could feel pressured to distance themselves from Dolan and his brands as details emerge. If more allegations stack up, calls for the NBA and NHL to urge Dolan to sell could ramp up – especially with the Knicks struggling through yet another miserable season.
For now, Dolan seems determined to stay the course while denying all accusations against him. But make no mistake – this lawsuit introduces chaos into the leadership of one of sports’ highest profile franchises at a critical juncture. And more turbulence could follow.
Dolan’s Full Statement in Response to Lawsuit
Below is Dolan’s complete statement, released through an MSG spokesperson:
“This is complete nonsense and nothing more than a cash grab attempt. There is absolutely no truth to this transparent attempt to destroy the reputation of Mr. Dolan. While I cannot speak to Mr. Weinstein, Mr. Dolan has a long-standing record of treating individuals, regardless of gender, race, age or beliefs with the utmost respect and professionalism. We fully expect this matter to be dismissed.”
This strong denial sets the stage for a potentially lengthy legal battle. Both sides seem prepared dig in, but the ultimate outcome remains cloudy.
Dolan has weathered many storms before without giving up control of MSG Sports. However, the serious nature of these sexual assault allegations mean this could be the greatest test of his controversial stewardship yet.
How Dolan and the NHL/NBA respond in the weeks ahead will be highly consequential for the future of New York sports and the oversight of sexual misconduct among the powerful. Dolan finds himself under a microscope he cannot fully control – an unfamiliar feeling for the famously stubborn executive.
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