Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The jury in the Isiah Thomas sexual harassment trial revealed a guilty verdict Tuesday, ruling that the current New York Knicks coach subjected former Madison Square Garden executive Anucha Browne Sanders to unwanted sexual advances and verbal insults.

In a minor victory for Thomas, the ruling also said that Thomas will not have to pay punitive damages. However, Thomas’ employer, Madison Square Garden, was also found guilty of harassment and will have to pay millions dollars worth of punitive damages to Browne Sanders.

The ugly three-week trial originated with a US$10 million lawsuit filed by Browne Sanders, the former senior vice president of marketing and business operations for the Knicks. She was fired by the team in December of 2006, and following her dismissal she filed the explosive lawsuit alleging that Madison Square Garden fostered an environment of sexism and inequality, personified by the conduct of Isiah Thomas. She stated that Thomas repeatedly called her a “bitch” and a “ho”, and pressured her to kiss him and said that he loved her. She also stated that the firing was the result of her filing a complaint about Thomas. Madison Square Garden, and the coach known for his charismatic and emotional demeanor, denied the charges.

After the guilty verdict was read, a relieved Browne Sanders hugged her family and friends who were present at the trial. Thomas met with his lawyers, and while leaving the courthouse stated, ““I’m innocent, very innocent, and I did not do the things she has accused me in this courtroom of doing. I’m extremely disappointed that the jury did not see the facts in this case. I will appeal this, and I remain confident in the man that I am and what I stand for and the family that I have.”

Madison Square Garden is also expected to appeal the decision.

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