Woman details alleged sexual misconduct by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Thursday, April 26, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the women who has alleged sexual and racial workplace misconduct against Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has spoken outafter comments by Houston Texans owner Bob McNair at the NFL owners meetings last month.

Sports Illustrated on Thursday published letters by the woman addressing McNair, the NFL, Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Richardson and the next owner of the Panthers. In the letters, she writes about how much she has been hurt by the misconduct and everything that has occurred since SI reported Dec. 17 that three former Panthers employees and one former scout alleged Richardson paid them off in exchange for their silence on the misconduct.

The woman, who was not identified, claimed Richardson broke the nondisclosure agreement signed by both parties after McNair, at the owners meetings in Orlando, said Richardson told other owners that he regretted paying off the victims and not fighting the allegations when they first surfaced.

In her letter to the 81-year-old Richardson, the woman said she "didn't know what to do" about alleged multiple sexual advances by the Panthers owner.

"I didn't know what to do when you called me to your stadium suite in the middle of the week so you could take off my shoes, place my legs in your lap and rub their entire length, from toes to crotch," the woman wrote in the letter. "I didn't know what to do when you asked me to turn around so you could see how my jeans looked. I didn't know what to do when you brushed my breasts to put my seat belt around me in the front seat of your car. I didn't know what to do when you put your hands on my mouth, for me to kiss them. I didn't know what to do when you asked me uncomfortable, sexually charged questions.

"I didn't know what to do. So, I did what you told me to do.''

The Panthers issued a statement Thursday saying they would not comment on the specific allegations because of an ongoing legal review, but they did defend what's been done to create "an environment in which our staff can feel proud to work."

"Tina Becker was named COO in December, and immediately began working towards addressing the issues," the statement said. "The team allocated significant resources towards reforming our workplace, restructured executive responsibilities and added a comprehensive training program on harassment and diversity and inclusion issues.

"We have overhauled our related policies and procedures, including improvements in our reporting to the league, all to make certain that employees who have a concern have multiple ways to report those concerns and can feel comfortable doing so."

In the other letters, the woman said the NFL's investigation is "a farce." In addressing McNair, she said she was offended by his description that Richardson's comments were "made jokingly and misunderstood." And she believes that Rivera was "insensitive" for being an "enabler" for siding with Richardson.

Mary Jo White, an independent attorney who headed the Bountygate investigation into the New Orleans Saints, is heading the investigation into Richardson. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the owners meetings that there is no timetable for a conclusion to the investigation.

Richardson is soon expected to announce his candidate to purchase the Panthers, with South Carolina billionaire Ben Navarro appearing to be the front-runner.

Goodell said the league hopes to be in position for the 32 owners to approve the sale -- 24 votes are needed -- at the May 21-23 meetings in Atlanta.