Sports Illustrated published a report Wednesday detailing a sexual assault allegation against Tony Ronzone, the Mavericks’ director of player personnel, while he was off duty in July 2019 at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
The Mavericks said in the report they conducted an internal investigation after the victim, whom Sports Illustrated did not identify by name, reached out to Mark Cuban via email in September 2019.
The Mavericks’ findings showed no organizational responsibility, according to the team, but Sports Illustrated’s report included significant detail from the victim, describing Ronzone forcing himself on her and groping her without consent in his hotel room, where he had said he would give her summer league tickets.
The two first met during the 2018 summer league. Ronzone, who remains a high-ranking employee of the team, has not faced criminal charges and denied the allegations through his lawyers.
According to Sports Illustrated, the victim told several people soon after the late-night incident, including a former federal agent who’s now a security consultant for an Eastern Conference team.
The Mavericks had an opportunity to access those sworn witness statements upon signing a nondisclosure agreement, but the Mavericks’ lawyers did not respond to the offer before the organization concluded its investigation, according to Sports Illustrated.
A lawyer representing the Mavericks from Winston and Strawn told Sports Illustrated the victim and her attorneys “refused to provide these declarations to the Mavericks and to us unless certain conditions were agreed upon — conditions that went well beyond protecting the identity of the individuals who executed those affidavits or statements.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, when reached by The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday morning, deferred questions to CEO Cynt Marshall.
. @mcuban told me: “You really need to talk to Cynt on this. She is obviously the expert and has handled everything on it.”
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) July 29, 2020
The Mavericks had several employees, including Marshall, speak with the victim.
Mavericks assistant coach Darrell Armstrong was a longtime friend of the victim’s, according to Sports Illustrated, and she told him of the assault a few days later. Armstrong told her Ronzone would be fired if Mavericks bosses found out, and he alerted Marshall and Cuban to her intent to speak out, the report said.
Armstrong didn’t respond to Sports Illustrated in several requests for comment.
Mavericks HR executive Tarsha LaCour flew to Las Vegas to meet with the victim March 11, the day the NBA suspended play due to the coronavirus. In the meeting, the victim said LaCour repeatedly asked what she wanted.
She said she never asked for money, but “what we talked about was how this incident really messed up my life,” Sports Illustrated reported. The Mavericks said the victim made a “significant” and “big and life changing” request for money for her children’s college tuition and her basketball non-profit, the latter she had discussed with Ronzone in hopes of securing financial support from the Mavericks.
Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther, who published Wednesday’s report, also published the February 2018 Sports Illustrated report exposing a culture of harassment and abuse within the Mavericks’ business operations.
The initial report prompted the Mavericks to hire Marshall and Cuban to donate $10 million to women’s organizations that combat domestic violence and support the leadership and development of women.
The Mavericks are required to report instances of significant allegations of misconduct by an employee to the NBA, a result of the 2018 investigation, according to Sports Illustrated.
The NBA said the Mavericks reported the incident with Ronzone in November and the league remained in communication with the team during the internal investigation.