The Dallas Mavericks have categorically denied allegations of sexual assault against director of player personnel Tony Ronzone, labelling them as ‘meritless’.
The allegation came to light in a Sports Illustrated story, where it was revealed that a woman had accused Ronzone, 55, of forcing himself upon her in a hotel room in Las Vegas during the 2019 edition of NBA’s Summer League tournament.
In the report, Ronzone is accused to have “[thrown] her onto the bed—with force—and [to have] straddled her, [before] pinning her body” on the bed.
It goes on to state that Ronzone was also accused of placing her hand on his crotch, and forcibly kissing her, before, according to Sports Illustrated, “He finally relented, and, in her words, she “escaped the room.”
However, the Mavericks have denied the allegations in a statement released yesterday, stating that they were “appalled that Sports Illustrated reported a story, knowing the Mavs were not provided all of the purported evidence.”
Continuing, the statement goes on to criticise Sports Illustrated for its reporting of the issue, saying: “Not only does this one-sided, incomplete and sensational form of journalism, with its multiple inaccuracies, mis-characterizations and omissions, seek to harm the reputations of the accused, but it dredges up the past for so many women and men in the Mavs’ organization and some who no longer work at the Mavs.”
The statement from the team went on to highlight what they stated as the above ‘inaccuracies,’ including:
- The request in the original email from the alleged victim to the Mavs organization was about money for her camps overseas, however the Mavs could not ignore the sexual assault subject line and associated information in the email.
- On multiple occasions, the Mavs organization encouraged the alleged victim to file a police report, but she chose not to do so.
- The alleged victim continued to say that others (outside of the Mavs) had promised her things like this in the past, but never delivered.
- The alleged victim had many opportunities to provide the Mavs organization more information during the investigation, during the legal process and after the legal process. At the alleged victim’s request, the final opportunity came in March 2020 when the SVP HR flew to meet the victim at the location of her choosing, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The statements were never provided, only a larger request for money was made.
- The requests for money continued to get bigger throughout the process with the victim stating she wanted something “big and life-changing.”
- Her story about the sexual harassment changed each time the Mavs spoke with her. SI was provided details about what changed in the story.
- SI omitted critical communication, including several text messages, between the alleged victim and the alleged accuser.
The statement made clear that the Mavericks had been fully supportive and co-operative through the investigation, that, in its words “spanned 6 months and involved 3 seasoned investigators, concluding with the [senior vice president of human relations] flying to Las Vegas to get promised information that was never provided.”
Ronzone’s attorney, Mark Baute, said to Sports Illustrated that the woman’s story was “meritless,” and it finished by stating that: “If any lawsuit [was] ever filed, [they looked] forward to proving Mr. Ronzone’s innocence.”