Mavs hire two attorneys to investigate sexual harassment allegations

The Dallas Mavericks organization fostered "a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior," according to an explosive Sports Illustrated report released Tuesday.

Update (8 p.m. Wednesday): The Mavericks have hired two investigators to look into allegations of sexual harassment within the organization.

Anne Milgrim, the former New Jersey attorney general, and Evan Krutoy, a former New York City prosecutor, will conduct the investigation, the team announced Wednesday.

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Milgrim and Krutoy will interview all Mavericks staff members, as well as former employees who wish to speak about the issue.

Earl K. Sneed sent a response following the story's publication:

"While both instances described in the report are damning and language used is not accurate, the two relationships described in the report are not something I am proud to have been a part of. I underwent much counseling after both situations, under the direction of Buddy Pittman, and I feel like I grew from that counseling. I also signed a contract stating that I would not have one-on-one contact or fraternize with female employees after the inaccurately described incident with my female co-worker, who was a live-in girlfriend. I abided by the details of that contract for four years, and received counseling during that period to avoid future instances.

I thank Buddy Pittman for helping me to grow during that time, and I thank Mark Cuban for his willingness to help facilitate that growth."

Original story (Tuesday night):

The Dallas Mavericks organization fostered “a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior,” according to an explosive Sports Illustrated report released Tuesday.

A month’s long investigation by SI discovered incidences of sexual harassment by the team president and sexual assault by a Mavs.com staffer, among other complaints. In a statement Tuesday night, the Mavs acknowledged "inappropriate conduct toward women" by a former employee.

Former team president Terdema Ussery is accused of public fondling and propositioning at least one female employee for sex, according to the report.

Then-CEO of the Dallas Mavericks Terdema Ussery, left, and actor Jamie Foxx, right, during the Dallas Mavericks Victory Parade on June 16, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

Earl K. Sneed, who has worked as a beat writer for Mavs.com since 2010-11, is accused of hitting a female Mavericks employee he had started dating in 2014. Two years earlier, he had pleaded guilty to family assault stemming from an incident with another woman.

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Sneed was fired Tuesday.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Sports Illustrated he was embarrassed by the allegations.

“This is all new to me,” he said. “The only awareness I have is because I heard you guys were looking into some things…. Based off of what I’ve read here, we just fired our HR person. I don’t have any tolerance for what I’ve read.”

The Mavs published an official statement on their website, which read in part:

“The Dallas Mavericks have received information about behavior in our workplace that appears to have violated the organization’s standards of conduct. It has been alleged that a former officer of the organization engaged in various acts of inappropriate conduct toward women over a period of years. This individual left the employment of the Mavericks nearly three years ago and the Mavericks have only learned of the scope of these complaints in the past days.

The Mavericks organization takes these allegations extremely seriously. Yesterday we notified the league office and immediately hired outside counsel to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. The investigation will focus on the specific allegations related to this former employee, and will look more broadly at our company’s workplace practices and policies. In addition, an employee whose job was to receive and investigate such complaints and report them accurately and fully, has been suspended pending the conclusion of our investigation.”

The NBA called the alleged behavior “completely unacceptable” in a statement released Tuesday in response to the SI article.

“The Dallas Mavericks have informed us of the allegations involving former team president Terdema Ussery and Mavs.com writer Earl Sneed. This alleged conduct runs counter to the steadfast commitment of the NBA and its teams to foster safe, respectful and welcoming workplaces for all employees. Such behavior is completely unacceptable and we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter."

LINK: Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks

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