|Isiah Thomas denies calling former Knicks exec vulgar names|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 September 2007 19:38|
NEW YORK (AP) -Knicks coach Isiah Thomas denied calling a former female team executive vulgar names, according to a videotaped deposition played for a jury Monday in his sexual harassment trial.|
``I never cursed at Miss Sanders,'' Thomas said of Anucha Browne Sanders, the former senior vice present of marketing and business operations who is seeking $10 million in damages on her claim that she was fired because she accused Thomas of harassment.
``Now have I ever used curse words around her, yes, but at her? No,'' Thomas said in response to questions posed by attorneys. The tape was projected on a big screen in a packed federal courtroom in the second week of the widely publicized trial.
On the tape, Thomas also said that he would find it more offensive if a white male called a black female a ``bitch,'' than if a black male used the same term when speaking to a black female. Browne Sanders has said that Thomas repeatedly called her that.
The airing of the deposition came during the second week of a trial that has exposed the Knicks to a series of damaging allegations just weeks before the start of training camp. The lawsuit has portrayed Madison Square Garden as more dysfunctional frat house than hallowed arena.
The lawsuit claims Browne Sanders was fired ``for telling the truth'' about vulgarity and unwanted advances by Thomas, also a team president.
Thomas has adamantly denied the allegations.
Robert Levy, an employment lawyer and a Knicks' season-ticket holder, also testified Monday that he attended an open practice event at Madison Square Garden in October 2005 and witnessed an encounter between Thomas and Browne Sanders.
Levy said he was seated in the stands with his son and saw Thomas in a conversation nearby with Browne Sanders and another man.
Thomas was praising the great job Browne Sanders was doing, and Levy said he saw Thomas place his arm around her shoulders and heard him remark ``it was distracting working with someone easy on the eyes.''
The incident lasted only a few minutes, with Browne Sanders pulling away, displaying an uncomfortable expression on her face at the time, Levy testified.
Browne Sanders testified Monday that Thomas repeatedly called her a nasty name during business meetings.
She said Thomas ``started some sentences with the word bitch'' and ended his sentence with even stronger language. Browne Sanders, testifying in a soft tone of voice, made her remarks during an aggressive cross examination by defense attorney Kathleen Bogas.
It was unclear how Thomas reacted to the testimony; his back was to the courtroom audience.
She also fended off assertions that her job performance was lacking after Madison Square Garden attorney Ronald Green introduced a series of 2004-05 e-mail exchanges by Browne Sanders and various managers at the Garden, including president Steve Mills.
``I want to stress that you are focused on more ridiculous issues than I can handle,'' Mills replied to Browne Sanders' e-mail asking about the order of the names in a media guide.
``Were you concerned that the relationship with Mr. Mills was not as good as it had been?'' Browne Sanders was asked. She replied that she was not.
Greene noted that, in an e-mail to a friend, Browne Sanders indicated that she would soon begin revising her resume. Opposing lawyers apparently are trying to show that Browne Sanders was in a power struggle, fearing her high-salaried position was slipping away from her.
Browne Sanders responded that she had received a ``glowing evaluation.''
After the jury of five women and three men left the courtroom Monday morning, U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch expressed exasperation the case was taking longer than non-celebrity trials and asked lawyers to speed things up.
``I saw one juror nodding off this morning,'' Lynch said.
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