A former Dallas Mavericks employee has penned an essay published this week by Sports Illustrated, claiming that owner Mark Cuban was aware of the sexual harassment taking place in the organization’s front office.
Melissa Weishaupt worked in marketing and game operations for the NBA team from 2010 to 2014, according to a USA Today report.
“She has publicly detailed how former CEO Terdema Ussery sexually harassed her on numerous occasions,” USA Today reported.
“I think Mark knew about (the culture), just because of how people talked in the office,” she told The Dallas Morning News. “It was a small office. I think Mark knew, and I think Mark just turned a blind eye to it. … It’s hard for me to believe he just dealt with basketball operations. That’s just an untrue statement.”
Weishaupt wrote the essay after Ussery complained in a previous Sports Illustrated story, that those claiming he had sexually harassed them were anonymous.
Her essay said, in part:
I was one of the women Terdema harassed and who spoke to Sports Illustrated for the story. My name is Melissa Weishaupt.
As is the case for so many females, the #MeToo movement has had relevance and resonance for, well, me too. I nodded as I read stories about powerful men using their positions of authority to behave inappropriately and then relying on their allies to avoid consequences. I could relate to women who just wanted to do their jobs but who instead had to devote so much time and energy to dealing with predators.
I found myself skeptical of owners and CEOs who prided themselves on knowing the most minute details of their organization but who suddenly claimed to be clueless about a hostile workplace culture.
USA Today reported on the Sports Illustrated story where Weishaupt was not named.
“One of the most jarring details revealed in last month’s in-depth Sports Illustrated piece detailing the corrosive and hostile work environment at the Mavericks concerned Ussery telling a woman she was going to get ‘gang-banged.’
“As Weishaupt told the Dallas Morning News, she was that woman,” USA Today reported.
“He would always bring up motorcycle riders like I was getting gang-banged by motorcycle riders,” she said. “It was so often I can’t even tell you how many times he said it.”
She also said that her attempts to report the misbehavior was ignored or outright rebuffed, according to USA Today.
“On Aug. 12, 2013, she tried talking to her direct boss, Paul Monroe, who was then the Mav’s vice president of marketing,” USA Today reported.
“We were in a car together, and he absolutely lost his mind with me,” she said. “He had locked me in the car for an hour. I froze because he just completely lost his mind, screaming and yelling at me.”
While that incident was unfolding, two other Maverick employees walked by the car, including vice president George Killebrew.
“They walked by and pointed and laughed, and my heart sank,” Weishaupt said. “I knew nobody was ever going to help, so I knew I had to get out of there.”