|Knicks boss Isiah Thomas faces accuser at start of sexual harassment trial|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 September 2007 09:26|
The Knicks coach and his accuser, Anucha Browne Sanders, sat stoically within a few feet of each other, both flanked by teams of lawyers. At one point, Thomas stood and smiled as the judge introduced him to the scores of potential jurors sitting in the gallery.
The jury pool was asked to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. One of the questions: ``Do you regularly follow professional basketball or consider yourself a fan?''
U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch also read aloud a list of names of possible witnesses, including Knicks players Stephon Marbury and Malik Rose. The questionnaire asked if ``you have an opinion about either of them that would in any way bias you in considering their testimony.''
James Dolan, chairman of Madison Square Garden, was also expected to testify.
Eight jurors were to be picked for a trial expected to last three weeks, meaning a verdict could come just before the Knicks open training camp for the 2007-08 season.
Browne Sanders, a former Northwestern basketball star and married mother of three, wants reinstatement to her job as senior vice present of marketing and business operations. She's also seeking hefty damages after spending five years with the storied franchise.
The plaintiff contends she was fired in January 2006 ``for telling the truth'' while going through internal channels to stop the harassment by Thomas, also the team's president for basketball operations. MSG insisted her dismissal was because she ``failed to fulfill professional responsibilities.''
Thomas has acknowledged that in December 2005 he tried to kiss Browne Sanders on the cheek at a Knicks game and asked ``No love today?'' when she pulled away, according to a recounting of claims by the judge. But the Knicks coach has disputed her allegations that he said he loved her and asked her to ``go off site'' with him.