- Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
- A former employee of the Carolina Panthers has published an article detailing disturbing allegations of sexual harassment against team owner Jerry Richardson.
- The woman also shared photos of suggestive notes she says he sent her.
- She also accused the Panthers organization of being rife with enablers and hostile to women in general.
- Richardson announced he was putting the team up for sale in December when accusations first emerged, but the process of finding a new owner has been dragging with no clear end in sight.
An article published in Sports Illustrated by a former Carolina Panthers employee who has accused owner Jerry Richardson of sexual harassment has shed an unsettling light on Richardson’s alleged misdeeds as owner, including pictures of handwritten notes she says Richardson sent.
The photos, as well as the rest of the allegations, present a damning portrait not only of Richardson but the Panthers organization at large. The developments could pressure Richardson to speed up the sale of the team and push the new owner to undergo a top-to-bottom cultural overhaul of the organization.
In one note that the accuser alleges came from Richardson, the author says he wishes he could rub the former employee’s feet, spread lotion on her body, and adds, “I regret I have never been able to give you pleasure.”
A photo of a second note shows that the author asked the woman how she viewed their relationship and listed six options including, “your grandfather,” “your second father,” “your second husband,” “your friend,” “your boyfriend,” and “or something else.”
In addition, the woman provided graphic details of her accusations against Richardson, such as a time she says he forced her to let him rub her legs “from toes to crotch,” asked her sexually charged questions, and other actions.
The article also describes the Panthers organizational culture as one in which Richardson’s abuse was regularly enabled, and one in which female employees were routinely treated as second class. The former employee, who worked on the Panthers side of the organization, mentions that she was, among other things, not allowed on the team plane or to eat in the football lunchroom.
Allegations of Richardson sexually harassing female employees first surfaced in December, prompting Richardson to announce he was selling the team. The sale is still ongoing, and there is no clear timetable moving forward.
The Panthers released a statement earlier today saying, in part, “We have instituted several new employee programs, all aimed at creating an environment in which our staff can feel proud to work.” Sports Illustrated wrote that Richardson was given a chance to respond to the article but declined to do so, and a Panthers beat writer tweeted that the team will be making no further comment.
You can read the entire article here.