NEW YORK – Avoiding the potential of a second embarrassing sexual harassment trial, Madison Square Garden settled a lawsuit with a former New York Rangers cheerleader who had accused executives of making unwanted advances.
MSG and Courtney Prince, who was fired in January 2004, announced a settlement Wednesday of Prince’s federal lawsuit. Identical statements released by the arena and by Prince, 29, said the matter had been resolved “with no admission of wrongdoing on the part of any party.” Both sides declined further comment.
After refusing a settlement deal with former Knicks team executive Anucha Browne Sanders when she accused coach Isiah Thomas and MSG of sexual harassment, the team and the Garden endured an embarrassing trial that exposed the club’s tawdry side, from its dysfunctional clubhouse to its star player’s sexual exploits with a team intern.
A jury awarded Browne Sanders US$11.6 million in October; MSG settled with her for $11.5 million before both sides were to return to court to discuss further damages.
Prince, the former captain of the Rangers’ cheerleading squad, said in her 2004 lawsuit that she was fired by the Garden after warning cheerleaders that at least one member of management was a sexual predator.
She had said a member of management tried to kiss her and asked her to have sex with him after a post-game party in 2003, and that other executives made disparaging remarks about the sexual morals of a fellow skater. She said the dozen cheerleaders were told to stuff their bras, lose weight, wear fake eyelashes and hairpieces and be more sexually alluring.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had recommended that MSG have its employees undergo sexual harassment discrimination training and pay Prince $800,000 in damages.