In lawsuit woman accuses New York Rangers of Knicks owner

In lawsuit, woman accuses New York Rangers of Knicks owner James Dolan pressuring her into sex – The Athletic

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, a Tennessee woman alleged that James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, pressured her into sex and that former film producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her a decade ago.

“I have suffered so deeply from what James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein did to me years ago, and it was not an easy decision to come forward and seek justice,” the woman, Kellye Croft, said in a statement. “But to truly address my trauma, I have to take responsibility. James Dolan manipulated me, took me to California to abuse me, and then prepared me for a brutal attack by Weinstein. I hope my lawsuit will force Dolan to acknowledge what he did to me and accept responsibility for the harm he has caused.”

Both Dolan and Weinstein have denied the allegations through their lawyers. The lawsuit was first reported by The New York Times.

According to the lawsuit filed in California, Croft worked as a massage therapist on a concert tour with the Eagles in 2013. She met Dolan on that tour with his band JD & The Straight Shot, which was the Eagles' opening act.

During the tour, as a consensual massage neared its end, Dolan pulled Croft toward him and placed her hands between his knees, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Croft was “strong in her belief that she did not want to have any sexual interactions with Dolan.”

“Following this unwanted sexual contact, Ms Croft was called to Dolan's room several times throughout the remainder of this part of the tour. On each of these occasions, Dolan made unwelcome advances toward Ms. Croft, and she felt compelled to indulge in sex with him,” the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, Dolan and music manager Irving Azoff flew with Croft to Los Angeles in January 2014, with Azoff's corporate entities paying for Croft's trip. Croft says she believed she traveled to California to continue working as the Eagles' massage therapist. The band was still on tour with JD & The Straight Shot.

Days later, the lawsuit says, Dolan encouraged Croft to join two assistants from Irving Azoff Management for shopping and dinner in Los Angeles. As Croft returned to her hotel after dinner and waited for the elevator, a man asked her, “Who is this to-go box for?”

The man who asked the question, according to the lawsuit, was Weinstein, the former film producer who was later convicted of sex crimes. When Croft said the meal was for her boyfriend Dolan, Weinstein told Croft that the sports mogul was “one of his best friends,” according to the lawsuit. He then asked her if she was “the massage therapist” and said Dolan mentioned his massage therapist and said great things about her.

According to the lawsuit, Weinstein said he might offer Croft work opportunities by helping with massage therapy for actors on his film sets. He then invited Croft to his hotel room for a chat.

According to the lawsuit, Weinstein asked Croft to give him a massage, but Croft refused, saying she was very picky about the type of massage tables she used. Weinstein later went to the bathroom and returned “wearing a loosely tied bathrobe,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Weinstein again asked for a massage, and after Croft again refused and tried to leave the room, Weinstein blocked the door. When Weinstein explained again that she needed her massage table, he let her leave the room but followed her down the hallway.

According to the lawsuit, Weinstein stuck his foot in the door of Croft's room as she tried to close it, entered the room and then assaulted her.

A call from Dolan to Croft's room interrupted the encounter, the lawsuit says, and Croft picked up the phone and told Dolan she would see him shortly.

“After hearing her speak to Dolan, Weinstein backed away from Ms. Croft,” the lawsuit says. “Then he said to her, ‘Well, you know Jim and I are best friends. “He'll be very disappointed that you seduced me, it won't look good for you.” Weinstein then left Ms. Croft's hotel room.”

According to the lawsuit, Croft told Dolan about the alleged assault immediately afterward, and Dolan “readily admitted to Ms. Croft that he knew all about Weinstein's history of assaulting and sexually abusing women and told her that “we all know” that Weinstein “has problems.”

Weinstein is serving 23 years in New York prison for a rape and sexual assault conviction in 2020. In 2022, he was convicted of sex crimes in California and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The sentences are to be served separately. In both cases an appeal is lodged.

The lawsuit names several defendants, including Dolan, Weinstein, JD & The Straight Shot and The Azoff Company, among others.

“None of the allegations against Mr. Dolan are entirely without merit,” Dolan’s attorney, E. Danya Perry, said in a statement to The Athletic. “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. The references to Harvey Weinstein are merely intended to outrage and appear to be plagiarized from previous cases against Mr. Weinstein.”

Weinstein's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, could not be reached when contacted by The Athletic on Tuesday evening, but released a statement to other media outlets earlier in the day.

“Mr. Weinstein vehemently denies these baseless allegations and looks forward to litigating these claims in a court where the truth will emerge,” Bonjean said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

One of the law firms representing Croft, Wigdor LLP, has already represented clients in cases against Dolan.

It is currently representing former Knicks big man Charles Oakley in the case Oakley brought against Madison Square Garden after Dolan had him ejected from the stands at a game in 2017. Douglas H. Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, two of Croft's lawyers, represented nine of Weinstein's accusers.

“It is time to finally hold Dolan accountable for his outrageous behavior,” Wigdor said in a statement.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fielded a question about the allegations against Dolan during a press conference Tuesday afternoon but declined to comment.

“I saw the article and I don’t know anything about it other than I read the article,” Silver said. “We stand by and wait to receive further information.”

In 2007, former Knicks general manager Anucha Browne Sanders sued the team's former general manager Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden, the company that owns the Knicks and is run by Dolan, for sexual harassment. She won the lawsuit and Dolan was ordered to pay Sanders $11.6 million.

(Photo by James Dolan: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)