View Full Version : Madison Square Garden: Culture of Abuse

02-05-2006, 09:02 PM
Her hell at Garden
Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Madison Square Garden is a den of sexual harassment, according to the former "Rangers City Skater" who is suing the World's Most Famous Arena, and heaven help the woman who complains about it.

Courtney Prince, once the captain of the Rangers' cheerleading squad, the NHL's version of the Knicks City Dancers, says she is hardly surprised that former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders filed a lawsuit last week accusing Knicks President Isiah Thomas and MSG of sexual harassment and discrimination. In court papers and in her first extended interview about her own sexual harassment lawsuit against the Garden, Prince told the Daily News yesterday that Garden bosses:

Made arrangements for the skaters to "have drinks with the bosses and guests" at bars near the Garden as part of their job requirements. The bosses repeatedly asked "Who's loose?" and "Which is the wild one?" One boss told Prince "who he'd want to perform oral sex on" and "who to have sex with from behind."

Ignored her complaints that a guest of the Garden, a professional golfer, "came up behind me" and rubbed his sexually aroused body against her at a celebration at a bar. Rangers flack Jason Vogel allegedly told her: "If I was dancing with you, I'd do the same."

Ordered skaters to stuff their bras and lose weight.
Purchased alcohol for skaters who were underage.
Attacked her character and spread false rumors about her after she warned other skaters not to be alone with certain bosses."This is a company that doesn't have respect for women," the former captain of the Rangers City Skaters said. "Anucha Browne Sanders is at the top of the organization and I'm a lowly cheerleader at the the bottom. I have to believe there's something going on in the middle, too. I now see how polluted it is."

Prince, 27, filed her lawsuit in October 2004 after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled there was probable cause to believe she was sexually harassed, and then was fired after she alerted other skaters to her treatment. Madison Square Garden; Ryan Halkett, its director of event presentation, and Vogel are named as defendants.

The EEOC recommended a settlement in August 2004 that would have required the Garden to implement sexual harassment training and adopt an anti-discrimination policy, as well as pay Prince up to $800,000 in lost salary, attorney fees and compensatory damages. MSG officials, however, rejected the deal and Prince filed her suit in Federal Court in New York.

According to Prince's attorney, Kathleen Peratis, the Garden is attempting an expensive, drawnout legal battle against her client. "They have deep pockets but so do we," Peratis says. Two of Prince's claims - retaliation by the Garden and assault and battery by Vogel - will go forward, while others are pending a ruling on a second motion to dismiss.Garden spokesman Barry Watkins stressed that no money has been paid by Madison Square Garden. And despite the pending ruling, Watkins said, "Regarding the lawsuit, the court granted MSG's motion to dismiss all claims of sexual harassment against MSG and its employees."

Vogel declined to comment, and the Garden declined to make its other employees available for comment.Prince, a Salt Lake City native who graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has been a competitive skater since she was a child, describes the Garden as a frat party run amok.The beginning of the end of her career at the Garden came on Dec. 22, 2003. The skaters had gotten a lot of ice time between periods of that night's game. Prince had been interviewed on the MSG television network.

To celebrate, the skaters and MSG executives went to a bar near the Garden called Lobby. A professional golfer who is a big Rangers fan - Prince and her attorneys Peratis and Tammy Marzigliano declined to identify him - was the team's honored guest that night and joined the group at the bar. "

They kept pushing him out on the dance floor," Prince said. "He came up to me and started grinding against me. I squealed and ran off."

Prince alleges she told Vogel the golfer was aroused. Vogel replied that he would be aroused, too, "if I were dancing with you." The skaters later decided to go to dinner, and as they were hailing cabs, Prince returned to the bar to wait for a woman she thought was still in the bathroom. When they returned, she found herself alone with Vogel and a New York Times reporter. But instead of taking Prince to the uptown restaurant where the other skaters were dining, Vogel and The Times reporter took her to a West Village bar called Daddy-O's.

The two men then told Prince they wanted to take her into the bathroom for a threesome. Prince tried to ignore the remark.When The Times reporter, who is not identified in the lawsuit, then asked Prince if he could kiss her, she says she said "no" and turned to Vogel. The Rangers' PR man put his open mouth and tongue on her mouth. She ran from the bar and grabbed a cab. Vogel followed, saying, "Let's get a hotel."

"I went home. I saw my boyfriend and I was crying."A few days later at the club's next home game, Prince told the other Ranger City Skaters about her night out with Vogel and the reporter. One of the women said she, too, had been warned about Vogel by Rangers vice president for public relations John Rosasco, according to the complaint.Prince says she had always received high performance reviews from her superiors, but about a month after the incident with Vogel, she noticed a change at the Garden. Her superiors were no longer returning her phone calls. Then she was called into a meeting with Halkett and Vice President of Marketing Jeanie Baumgartner. She said Baumgartner accused her of disparaging MSG executives and calling Halkett a "sexual predator."

"It became very clear to me that they did not want to hear anything I said," Prince said. "They called me a pathological liar. They told me all the girls hated me."

Prince's voice wavers as she talks about the ordeal.MSG brass removed Prince's picture and bio from the Rangers' Web site, but the team didn't actually acknowledge that she had been terminated until weeks after her meeting with Halkett and Baumgartner. Prince was so depressed after losing her job that it was difficult some mornings just to get out of bed. Then, she says, she decided to fight back.She has received threats, and the Garden has tried to dig up dirt to discredit her, she says.

"I went into this being anti-feminist and I used to judge women who claim sexual harassment the same way I'm sure people are judging me," says Prince, who now freelances in marketing and design.

"But it's been worth it."

02-05-2006, 09:06 PM

The sex-harassment scandals at Madison Square Garden continue to grow, with a third female Garden employee claiming she is the victim of co-workers who subjected her to "disparaging remarks" as well as "pinups, pornography and the use of female body parts as obscenities," The Post has learned.

In yet another bombshell federal suit slamming the behavior of MSG's male employees, ex-video technician Verity Lund claimed Garden brass knew about the crude conduct and "had long fostered an environment which was abusive to women."

Lund said MSG banished her to a trailer and cut her workload and pay by 75 percent when she complained about her colleagues' boorish behavior. She was assaulted by a male colleague, Lawson Fisher, who hit, kicked and pushed her, she charged in a separate suit in state court.

Cops arrested Fisher, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, court documents said. The Garden fired him, court papers revealed.

It's unclear if the 58-year-old Lund, a full-time freelancer who started at MSG in 1986 and was the Garden's oldest video technician, had any contact with former Knicks former marketing executive Anucha Browne Sanders, who has accused Knicks GM Isiah Thomas of making sexual advances toward her, and says she was then being fired after she rebuffed him.

One Garden source said the two women worked in different buildings — Lund in the arena itself, Sanders in the company's executive offices next door at 2 Penn Plaza.

But there are some similarities to their allegations.

Lund says the men in her department got more work and better jobs starting about 1998, according to her federal suit — a sex- and age-discrimination action filed in Manhattan in 2004.

Lund's suit doesn't say when or for how long she was subjected to the alleged sexual harassment, but she complained about it and the purported attack by Fisher to several administrators, including Ann Jackson in the human-resources department, the suit says.

"Ms. Lund complained to Ms. Jackson about the abusive environment that encouraged the [Fisher] incident and said that historically MSG had discriminated against women," the suit says.

"In response to Ms. Lund discussing the incident with her, Ms. Jackson said 'some people would have walked away crying,' " the suit alleged.

Efforts to reach Jackson at the MSG human-resources department were not successful.

Lund settled with the Garden out of court in September.

"I'm sure you understand, I can't talk about this," Lund said yesterday, referring questions to her lawyer.

Her $2.25 million suit against Fisher — who, she claimed, attacked her "without provocation" at the Garden on June 24, 2001, causing injuries that required "extensive" medical care — was tossed out.

Lund's lawyer, Eugenie Gilmore, would not disclose the terms of the settlement with MSG "because I need to protect my client."

She added, "These are powerful people we're talking about."

In the Lund suit, MSG lawyers last February made a stunning concession, writing that "the defendant admits" to one of Lund's earlier allegations — specifically that the Garden "allowed harassment and mistreatment by co-workers."

On Friday, an MSG spokesman denied that. "We have a zero-tolerance policy for a hostile work environment and have been proud of how our employees have been treated," said the spokesman.

"MSG has a comprehensive anti-harassment policy that includes provisions for employees to raise concerns and prohibits retaliation for invoking complaints. We vigorously and immediately investigate any and all claims brought to our attention and take appropriate action."

In another revelation, made during a hearing last August in Lund's case, a lawyer for MSG made references to two additional "internal" complaints of harassment within the Garden's network-operations department, according to a court transcript.

"Neither one them are based on age or retaliation, nor are they based on gender discrimination," said the MSG lawyer, Lyle Zuckerman, at the hearing.

"They are harassment. One of them, I can't be even be sure if it is sex harassment, although it could be, depending on how you interpret it."

Zuckerman did not give further details in court but did say the alleged victim in at least one complaint was female.

The lawyer also references "external complaints" but does not give more information.

Lund's suit echoes those of Sanders and ex-Rangers cheerleader Courtney Prince, who says she was fired after she told fellow cheerleaders that an MSG staff member sexually harassed her.

In 2004, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommended that the Garden have its employees undergo sexual-harassment discrimination training and pay Prince — who called members of the management team "sexual predators" — $800,000 in damages.

The Garden rejected the deal and Prince sued in federal court.

The Garden is owned and operated by Cablevision Systems Corp., founded by Charles Dolan and run by his son James.

Its portfolio includes the WE: Women's Entertainment cable channel.

The channel is described in a statement as dedicated "to creating projects and programs that foster and celebrate the intelligence, strength, confidence, diversity and leadership of women, both in the workplace and at home."

Cablevision was dropped from Lund's suit in a Feb. 7, 2005, ruling, but MSG remained a defendant in the case.

02-05-2006, 09:17 PM
What's Missing in 'NY Times' Coverage of Sex Harrassment Case?
A Times hockey writer allegedly plays a role in a high-profile lawsuit, as revealed by another New York daily this week. Why has the Times reported on the case--but not mentioned its own employee's relation to it?

By Allan Wolper

(February 03, 2006) -- The New York Times is refusing to explain why it hushed up the fact that one of its hockey writers was involved in a Dec. 23, 2003, incident in a West Greenwich Village bar central to a sexual harassment court case.

On Tuesday, The New York Daily News revisited that October, 2004 federal law suit filed by Courtney Prince, 27, the former captain of The New York Rangers City Skaters—a cheerleading group--against Jason Vogel, a public relations official of the team, Ryan Halkett director of event presentation, and Madison Square Garden itself.

In the story, The Daily News matter-of-factly detailed a sexual encounter involving Courtney, Vogel and a second man identified only as a “New York Times reporter.

The Daily News, relying on court records and several interviews with Prince, reported that the two men escorted the cheerleader to a West Greenwich Village bar called Daddy-O’s instead of a restaurant where she was to meet some other dancers. This account stated that the Times reporter and the Rangers public relations man allegedly cornered Prince and tried to convince her to have sex with them in a nearby bathroom.

The Times man allegedly asked Prince if he could kiss her, but she spun away from him only to turn and be grabbed by Vogel who stuck his tongue down her throat, according to court records and The News.

On Wednesday, The News moved the involvement of the Times reporter to the top of a follow-up story and identified him as someone who regularly covered the Rangers, without naming him. The next day, the gossip columnists, Rush and Molloy, suggested a likely suspect by name, citing an item on the popular blog Gawker.

Prince, born and raised in Salt Lake City, and a graduate of The Robert Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, filed her suit 16 months ago after a Federal Equal Opportunity Commission found there
was probable cause to believe she was sexually harassed.

The EEOC recommended that the Garden pay Prince $800,000, and
said it was willing to mediate the dispute, but the arena refused the advisory and rejected the mediation offer.

Media interest in Prince’s suit was renewed last week after a former New York Knicks basketball executive Anucha Browne Sanders filed a sexual harassment suit against Isiah Thomas, president of the basketball team, and Madison Square Garden.

A New York Times story on that suit on Jan. 25 noted that Prince had filed a similar complaint against the Garden “and then fired her after she told other skaters that she been solicited for sex by a public relations manager for the team during a postgame encounter in a bar.”

But The Times never mentioned that the other man who was implicated in that encounter was one of the team’s hockey writers.

The newspaper had learned that one of its hockey writers was involved in the alleged altercation at the West Village bar when it published its first account of the law suit on Oct. 19, 2004, according to numerous sources. At that time, the paper published the names of the Garden officials targeted in Prince’s law suit. But that story by Richard Sandomir only referred to the Times reporter as “the other man” – the way he was identified in court papers.

Sandomir, quoting the law suit, noted that the two men with her had "wanted to go into the bathroom and have sex with her." But the Times story never mentioned that one of those men was allegedly a New York Times writer, a decision sources say was made by the paper’s editors.

The Times might have convinced itself that it did not need to reveal its reporter's connection to the case – a valid legal reason, though hardly a reasoned journalistic or ethical one. Especially since the unnamed Times reporter is almost certain to be called as a witness in the Prince sexual harassment case if it ever is argued in federal court.

Perhaps the Times felt it was unfair to identify a reporter’s involvement because he was not named in the explosive law suit and those allegations are yet to be proven in court. But it was just as wrong to report on that high profile case without at least informing readers that one of its (unnamed) reporters might have played a role in it.

What does The Times have to say about all this? I received polite “no comments” from Tom Jolly, the sports editor; Catherine J. Mathis, vice president of corporate communications; David McCraw, a legal counsel, and Sandomir.

Identifying people not named in legal papers is a political game played every day in Washington, D.C. For example, The Times recently noted that Rep. Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican, was the unidentified politician mentioned in a Justice Department case against lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The Times silence in the affair was matched by all the other newspapers that cover sports at Madison Square Garden, even though the writers continue to gossip about the role of the Times writer.

The alleged sexual encounter at the West Village bar would still be a secret if Terri Thompson and Michael O’Keefe of the Daily News had not made it part of the public record of the Courtney suit against the Garden.

“When we found out about it, my jaw dropped a little,” O’Keefe said. “I was shocked.”

Why didn’t Prince identify the Times reporter in her suit? “Because I didn’t want to,” Kathleen Peratis, who is Prince’s attorney, told me.

Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden spokesman Barry Wilkins told the News that “all sexual harassment claims brought against Madison Square Garden and its employees have been dismissed.” A ridiculous statement since the case was being argued Wednesday in federal court.

It is hard to understand why The New York Times believes it can get away with not reporting its involvement in a high-profile story. I thought it would have learned that lesson from Judith Miller and Jayson Blair.

02-05-2006, 09:30 PM
Sports Scandal Guessing Game: ‘Times’ Harasser Edition

READ MORE: new york times (http://www.gawker.com/news/new-york-times/index.php), sports (http://www.gawker.com/news/sports/index.php)

We didn’t look at this earlier, as we admit we should have, because, well, even with all sorts of sexual-harassment charges, we still figured there’s no way hockey is ever interesting. We were wrong. Courtney Prince, a former captain of the Rangers’ cheerleading squad, the Rangers City Skaters, who a year and a half ago filed suit against Madison Square Garden for sexual harassment, has an exclusive first interview on the front page of today’s Daily News. Among her unpleasant stories is this one:
The skaters later decided to go to dinner, and as they were hailing cabs, Prince returned to the bar to wait for a woman she thought was still in the bathroom. When they returned, she found herself alone with [Rangers PR man Jason] Vogel and a New York Times reporter.

But instead of taking Prince to the uptown restaurant where the other skaters were dining, Vogel and The Times reporter took her to a West Village bar called Daddy-O’s. The two men then told Prince they wanted to take her into the bathroom for a threesome. Prince tried to ignore the remark.

When The Times reporter, who is not identified in the lawsuit, then asked Prince if he could kiss her, she says she said “no” and turned to Vogel. The Rangers’ PR man put his open mouth and tongue on her mouth. She ran from the bar and grabbed a cab. Vogel followed, saying, “Let’s get a hotel.” Um, yeah. So the question, then: Who’s the threesome-loving, alleged attempted-raping Times reporter. Any guesses? Let us know.

We’re just saying what you’re saying.

Name the Scuzzy ‘Times’ Scribe: Sports Scandal Guessing Game Revealed?

READ MORE: new york times (http://www.gawker.com/news/new-york-times/index.php), sports (http://www.gawker.com/news/sports/index.php)

Yesterday afternoon we brought your attention to the Daily News’s front-page interview with former Rangers City Skater Courtney Prince, who is suing Madison Square Garden for sexual harassment. Among the unfortunate incidents Prince cites was one involving a New York Times reporter, who allegedly attempted to entice her into a threesome with Rangers flack Jason Vogel. The identity of the reporter, however, was left sadly unspecified. And so we turned to you, dear readers, for insight.
Now, we’d like to make clear Prince’s change is merely an allegation, and we have no knowledge of whether it actually occurred and who, if it did, was the perpetrator. But we’ll also note that y’all pointed out several things to us:

Jason Diamos is the Times’s regular NHL beat reporter, you noted; Nexis reveals Diamos covered the Rangers game on the night the alleged proposition is said to have taken place, you discovered; and Diamos is said to “enjoy a cocktail or 100,” you commented.

02-05-2006, 09:37 PM
THIS is why Isiah still has a job.

02-06-2006, 02:23 AM
I wish that people didn't see NYK dancers as sex symbols.

Then again, I don't know how they dress. I'm sure it isn't salacious. Is it?

02-06-2006, 04:16 AM
Thanks for the updates KiKi.

02-06-2006, 07:56 AM
I wish that people didn't see NYK dancers as sex symbols.

Then again, I don't know how they dress. I'm sure it isn't salacious. Is it?

Yeah, it is. They're just asking to be groped, right?

But you should SEE the video technicians, not to mention the marketing executives.