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Four former Mavericks employees accuse team photographer of sexual harassment, lewd comments

Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, left, listens during a September news conference about the team's workplace culture. (Nathan Hunsinger/The Dallas Morning News)

The recently completed investigation into the Dallas Mavericks' workplace culture took seven months. A former Manhattan district attorney and a former New Jersey attorney general, who were hired to conduct the probe, interviewed 215 current and former Mavericks employees and reviewed more than 1.6 million documents, including emails and other electronic documents. In the end, the investigation found “substantiated numerous instances of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks organization over a period spanning almost twenty years.”

But the investigation apparently didn’t catch everything. In a story published by the Dallas Morning News Friday morning, four former Mavericks employees, all of them women, accused team photographer Danny Bollinger of propositioning female co-workers and making lewd comments in the workplace.

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Bollinger — who the News says has worked for the Mavericks' marketing department for 18 years, has been friends with team owner Mark Cuban since the 1990s and introduced Cuban to his future wife — accompanied the team on its preseason trip to Shanghai but was told he was being sent home on Thursday, according to the report by Brandon George of the Morning News. Bollinger’s name did not appear in the 43-page report that resulted from the investigation. The paper summarized the allegations against Bollinger here:

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.
— Dallas Morning News

Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall told the paper that the team is conducting its own “internal investigation” but did not specify whether it was about Bollinger. Team owner Mark Cuban, who agreed to donate $10 million to women’s groups after the previous investigation’s results were released, said the Mavericks were not trying to hide anything when it comes to his friend’s behavior.

“To suggest that the Mavs hid anything or didn’t take an action for any reason, any whatsoever, is to claim that you believe that [Marshall] and the professionals she brought in are not capable of doing their jobs,” Cuban told George in an email. “They have, they are and will continue to do the jobs they know how to do and continue to have carte blanche to make any personnel decisions they feel the need to make in accordance with the guidelines they defined, not what any outside organization feels they should be.”

The NBA is requiring the Mavericks to give the league office quarterly reports on its progress toward meeting and implementing the recommendations included in the investigation’s report. Asked about this process in light of the new revelations, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the team was following through.

“Part of the process, the new process we put in place with the Mavericks, was an ongoing reporting obligation to the league office,” he said in Shanghai, per ESPN. “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.”

Behrens is the NBA’s president of social responsibility and player programs.

“To the best of my knowledge, and I haven’t talked to Cynthia in the last few days, I think they’re well equipped now with the new organization they put in place to do the appropriate and necessary investigations and then to act on those findings,” Silver continued.

The NBA did not suspend Cuban after the investigation’s findings were revealed, a decision that was criticized in some corners. He took the blame for the probe’s findings: that former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery committed numerous acts of sexual harassment and that former team website writer Earl K. Sneed had been accused of domestic violence on two occasions, one of involving another Mavericks employee.

“We did a lot of things wrong, and I wasn’t there to oversee him,” Cuban told ESPN last month, speaking of Ussery. “Everybody has every reason to question me, but I wasn’t there. That was my fault.”

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