Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is facing an investigation after a slew of sexual harassment allegations against him surfaced recently, and is planning to sell the team at the end of the season.
The NFL announced Sunday that it was taking over an investigation into sexual assault allegations that had previously been handled by the team. Sports Illustrated also conducted its own investigation that revealed four former female employees had accepted settlements in exchange for keeping silent about Richard’s alleged harassment.
The owner is facing multiple allegations that range from making inappropriate comments to unwanted touching.
According to the allegations, Fridays were “Jean Day.” Richardson would ask Panthers employees wearing jeans to turn around so that he could ogle them. He often made inappropriate comments, including one that was reportedly used quite often, according to the New York Post.
“I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans.”
Richardson would also allegedly write notes to female employees that contained cash and instructed them to buy a new dress or get a massage. He would often pay for manicures if he didn’t like their nails and even offered to personally shave their legs for them, according to he report.
The Panthers owner would also allegedly ask his assistants to bring female employees to his luxury suite at the Panthers stadium. Former employees said these meetings would often involve back rubs that became too handsy.
“The first time, you thought it was an important meeting with the owner. You [then] realized it was never anything that couldn’t be discussed over the phone.”
Richardson was also accused of a move that became known as the “seat belt maneuver,” according to the Sports Illustrated report. When helping female employees into cars, he would reportedly offer to buckle their seat belt for them and brush against their breasts as he did so.
The team declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.
“Because this matter is under an ongoing legal review, the Carolina Panthers cannot comment publicly on the specifics of the allegations.”
In light of the allegations, Richardson announced in a letter on the team’s website that he will be selling the team at the conclusion of the season. The letter said that no sale process will begin until after the last game, but that it’s time for new ownership.
“I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership. Therefore, I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries, until the very last game is played.”
Richardson has owned the Panthers since 1993.
He has made no comment in response to the allegations. Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney said Richardson offered a statement of support, saying he hadn’t witnessed any sexual harassment or misconduct, according to ESPN.
“I have the utmost respect for him as an owner. Our employees have the utmost respect for him. I came back because of the respect I have for him and for the organization he started and developed.”
[Feature image: Associated Press]