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New York Knicks Coach Found Guilty of Sexual Harassment

A federal jury found New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas guilty of sexual harassment Tuesday and ordered Madison Square Garden (MSG), the team’s owner, to pay millions in punitive damages to former executive Anucha Browne Sanders.

During the trial, Browne Sanders testified that Thomas made unwanted sexual advances and called her derogatory names, reports the Associated Press. She also contended that she was wrongfully fired in 2006 after she complained to her bosses about Thomas’ inappropriate behavior.

In a video deposition, Thomas denied that he ever cursed Browne Sanders but admitted that he probably used curse words “around her.” He added that while he found it inappropriate for a white man to call a black woman a ‘bitch,’ he said it is less wrong for a black man to do the same. “I do make a distinction,” he said.

The jury decided that MSG and its chairman, James L. Dolan (who also heads Cablevision, MSG’s parent company) must pay $11.6 million in damages, according to the New York Times. Because the jurors were unable to decide whether Thomas should pay punitive damages to Browne Sanders, the judge ruled a mistrial on the matter, and Thomas himself will not pay.

Sources:

Associated Press 10/2/07; New York Times 10/2/07; Isiah Thomas video deposition on Newsday.com 10/2/07