Knicks coach Thomas denies harassment in filing

Updated: August 10, 2006, 9:13 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has filed court papers denying he sexually harassed a former team executive, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.

In the 12-page court document filed Wednesday, Thomas acknowledged he once touched Anucha Browne Sanders' shoulder, and may have even tried to kiss her on the cheek. But he insisted he did nothing wrong, reiterating his stance since the allegations were made public in January.

Sanders, the Knicks' former senior vice president of marketing and business operations, contends she was fired in January "for telling the truth" while going through internal channels to stop the harassment. She has accused Thomas of telling her he was "very attracted" to her and "in love" with her and tried to kiss her.

Her "inability to accept the changes that occurred under Thomas' leadership fueled her antipathy toward Thomas and are reflected by this meritless lawsuit," Thomas' lawyers said in papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, the Daily News reported.

According to the papers, Thomas admits he "greeted plaintiff by placing his hand on her shoulder and attempting to kiss her on the cheek."

But he categorically denied all of Browne Sanders' accusations.

"Many of the allegations are without any factual support and those that have some semblance of accuracy have been distorted," Thomas' defense attorney, Peter Parcher, wrote.

Thomas previously asked a judge to toss out the lawsuit and have Browne Sanders pick up the tab for his legal fees. Browne Sanders' attorney, Kevin Mintzer, declined comment to the newspaper on Thomas' papers, which were filed a week after she amended her lawsuit, adding James Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden's parent company Cablevision, as a defendant.

In court documents, Browne Sanders said Thomas often berated her and made crude comments about her to Knicks officials, telling them not to listen to any of her directions.

In its own court papers, the Garden said Browne Sanders' firing was for legitimate business reasons.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press