A woman filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing James L. Dolan, the entertainment and sports mogul behind Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks, of pressuring her into unwanted sex and then coordinating an encounter with Harvey Weinstein, whom she sexually assaulted accused.
The woman, Kellye Croft, says in the court filing that she told Mr. Dolan – a former friend and business partner of Mr. Weinstein – about the alleged incident after it occurred in early 2014, years before Mr. Dolan made public statements that he had nothing knew of Mr. Weinstein's history of misconduct.
In her lawsuit filed in federal district court in Los Angeles, Ms. Croft alleges that in late 2013, when she was 27, she was hired as a massage therapist for a tour by the classic rock band Eagles. Mr. Dolan – who also works as a blues-rock musician – was the opening act for his band JD & the Straight Shot.
In court papers, Ms Croft describes the experience as a dream job that went wrong due to the misconduct of two men who were among the most influential figures in the media and entertainment industry. First, Ms. Croft's lawsuit says, she was pressured into unwanted sex with Mr. Dolan and then found herself alone in a Beverly Hills hotel room with Mr. Weinstein, who chased her down a hallway, held her and penetrated her Will.
In a statement, Ms Croft said: “James Dolan manipulated me, took me to California to abuse me and then prepared me for a vicious attack by Weinstein.”
E. Danya Perry, a lawyer for Mr. Dolan, said in a statement: “None of the allegations against Mr. Dolan are entirely without merit. Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship.” She added: “Mr. Dolan always believed that Ms. Croft was a good person and is surprised that she would agree with these claims. The bottom line is that this is not a he/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to support our position. We look forward to proving this in court.”
Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein, said he “vigorously denies these baseless allegations and looks forward to litigating these claims in court where the truth will emerge.”
Douglas H. Wigdor, an attorney for Ms. Croft, said: “With the filing of today's complaint, it is time to finally hold Dolan accountable for his outrageous behavior.”
The lawsuit accuses Mr. Dolan of sex trafficking for these incidents, arguing that he facilitated their transportation “for the purpose of sex procured by force, fraud, or coercion.” The lawsuit also accuses Mr. Dolan and Mr. Weinstein – who is serving a 23-year prison sentence for serious sex crimes – of sexual assault and forcible touching.
Ms. Croft's lawsuit says she was hired as a tour massage therapist for Glenn Frey, a founding member of the Eagles who died in 2016, but was allowed to book massage appointments for other members of the tour. She says that Mr. Dolan intervened on her behalf when she had a conflict with a tour manager who was later fired, and that Ms. Croft began to understand how powerful Mr. Dolan was when he made Mr. Frey apologize to her “repeatedly and profusely.” the problem.
Mr. Dolan booked a massage and at his appointment, the lawsuit says, he dragged Ms. Croft onto a couch and forced her hands between his knees. She resisted, she says, and “persisted” that she didn't want a sexual relationship, but he pressured her into sex. According to court documents, Mr. Dolan “ordered” Ms. Croft into his room several times during the tour and “she felt compelled to indulge in sex with him.”
In January 2014, the lawsuit says, Ms. Croft rejoined the tour in the Los Angeles area, where the Eagles were based at the Forum. However, the lawsuit says the real reason for her presence was that Mr. Dolan “wanted to sexually exploit Ms. Croft.”
On the same trip, Ms. Croft said she met Mr. Weinstein in an encounter that the lawsuit alleges was coordinated by Mr. Dolan. While waiting for the elevator at her hotel, Ms. Croft said, she chatted with Mr. Weinstein, who invited her to his room to discuss a job massaging actors on film sets. While the lawsuit states that Mr. Weinstein asked her if she was “the massage therapist” and that Mr. Dolan said great things about her, the lawsuit does not elaborate on the allegation that Mr. Dolan supervised her encounter with her Mr. Weinstein “coordinated” it.
The suit says that Ms. Croft became uncomfortable when Mr. Weinstein asked her to try on clothes in front of him – she had just been shopping and still had her bags with her – and then asked her for a massage on his bed. She began to walk down the hall toward her own room, but Mr. Weinstein followed her in his bathrobe.
Ms. Croft says in her lawsuit that Mr. Weinstein forcibly entered her room and began sexually harassing her but stopped when the phone rang.
It was Mr. Dolan who called and Mr. Weinstein left her room. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Croft went to Mr. Dolan's room and told him about the attack. She said in court papers that Mr. Dolan said he was “not surprised at all” and that Mr. Weinstein was “a 'troubled person' who had many 'serious problems' but that his friends were 'trying' to get him to have these.” to address problems.”
Mr. Dolan and Mr. Weinstein had been close friends for years, and Mr. Dolan served as a board member of the Weinstein Company, Mr. Weinstein's production company, for about a year beginning in 2015.
In 2018, after investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker uncovered Mr. Weinstein's history of sexual misconduct and he was accused of harassment or assault by dozens of women, Mr. Dolan released a song Straight Shot with his band JD & the the title “I Should've Known”. The text deals with a broken friendship:
I should have known
I should have thrown
I myself about his tracks
Stopped him from these vile attacks
In interviews promoting the song, Mr. Dolan linked it to Mr. Weinstein “and others” who had a record of attacking or abusing women. “What have I missed?” Mr. Dolan said in an interview.
He also cast doubt on a lawsuit filed in late 2017 by six of Mr. Weinstein's female victims that alleged that several men who had served as board members of the Weinstein Company knew about Mr. Weinstein's predatory behavior and were complicit in perpetrating it cover up.
“I just think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Dolan said of the lawsuit in an interview with ESPN the following year. The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy and the lawsuit was eventually settled, but company officers and directors, including Mr. Dolan, were released from their claims.