Report: Mavericks photographer accused of sexual harassment

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
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As the investigation into sexual misconduct within their organization dragged on, the Mavericks put out word the delays were due to investigators “being as thorough as humanly possible.”

But when the report was finally released, one name that didn’t appear in it: Danny Bollinger.

Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News:

Four former female employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity said team photographer Danny Bollinger has a history of propositioning female co-workers and making lewd comments in the workplace.

Bollinger, 50, has worked in the Mavericks’ marketing department for more than 18 years, spanning Mark Cuban’s ownership. He has the title of publishing manager and has been friends with Cuban since the 1990s.

Three of the women who worked for the Mavericks, and an additional female who volunteered for the team, told The News they were surprised Bollinger was not included in the report. Two said they told investigators about Bollinger’s sexual advances and lewd comments. One said investigators were aware of Bollinger’s reputation, confirming that an investigator first brought up his name in an interview.

Two say Bollinger propositioned them for sex multiple times, and one said he showed her inappropriate photos while at work of Mavericks dancers and female fans sitting in the front row at games.

I suggest reading George’s report for more details, but these specific allegations stood out to me:

A female community services volunteer for the Dallas Mavericks Foundation said that early in Bollinger’s tenure, he twice jumped into her vehicle as she was pulling out of a parking lot at the American Airlines Center and propositioned her for sex.

The former volunteer said Bollinger approached her car waving his arms to get her to stop. He opened her door and jumped into a passenger seat, she said, and started to come on to her. She said she told Bollinger that she was happily married with children and that he needed to get out of her car. She said she argued with Bollinger for a few minutes until he left.

The woman said she reported the incident to Pittman in human resources, who assured her he’d handle it. However, a few weeks later Bollinger again approached her car as she was leaving the parking lot. This time, she said, Bollinger walked in front of her car to get her to stop. She said she stopped because she was naive enough to think that maybe he had come to apologize for the first incident.

Instead, she said, Bollinger again started to come on to her. She said she again rejected his advances before telling him to get out of her car.

“I’ve never experienced someone so bold in my life,” she added.

Around the same time as the first incident involving Bollinger, the volunteer was offered a full-time job by the Mavericks. But she said that shortly after she complained to Pittman about Bollinger’s first sexual advance, the job offer was rescinded.

Bollinger’s alleged conduct sounds horrible. The Mavericks’ response looks horrible.

This is not how to treat people. Less importantly, it’s not how to run a company. If this woman were the best person for a job, it would have hurt the Mavericks to run her off for retaliation. Other employees clearly felt uncomfortable around Bollinger, and no doubt, that adversely affected their work.

The Mavericks’ human-resources department, under Buddy Pittman, was a failure. Mistreated employees had nowhere within the company to turn. This was clearly an awful workplace environment.

Now, new questions arise about how the Mavericks are fixing it. The investigative report released last month had sections on six people: Terdema Ussery, Chris Hyde, Earl Sneed, Buddy Pittman, George Prokos and Mark Cuban. All six were already accused of wrongdoing in the initial Sports Illustrated report and/or other reporting. Did the investigation aim to fully understand and convey the extent of the Mavericks’ problematic workplace or just detail the issues the public already knew about?

It’s not just a matter of naming Bollinger in the report, either. He was on the team’s China trip until being sent home yesterday, according to The Dallas Morning News. Were these allegations taken seriously and addressed promptly?

NBA commissioner Adam – who has already had to defend penalizing neither the Mavericks nor Cuban, who agreed to donate $10 million to charity – is doing more damage control.

Silver, via ASAP Sports:

I will say that, when the investigators did their review of the Mavericks’ organization, they made a decision to not make public allegations that were brought by employees who chose to remain anonymous. What they did at the end of the investigation was, in essence, shift to the new management of the Dallas Mavericks, run by Cynthia Marshall, their findings with an understanding that Cynthia Marshall, then using a more traditional human resources process, would continue to investigate particular employees and then act on them.

Part of the process, the new process we put in place with the Mavericks, was an ongoing reporting obligation to the league office. So Cynthia Marshall has been in constant contact with Kathy Behrens at the league office. We were aware of those additional allegations, and we are monitoring how they are responding to them.

The investigative report noted it granted anonymity to most of its sources. No victims are named. I don’t understand this distinction between the allegations listed in the report and the ones about Bollinger. They all came from anonymous employees and anonymous former employees.

All along, the investigate report was painted as a full reckoning. It was a chance for the Mavericks to uncover all their errors then take responsibility for them.

But it increasingly looks like a public-relations document designed to limit damage.

If that was a goal, it didn’t work. These new revelations are especially damaging given the expectation this saga had concluded.

This story won’t go away until the Mavericks fully handle their problems. It seems they haven’t yet.