A massage therapist has sued Madison Square Garden Chief Executive James L. Dolan and disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, accusing them of sex trafficking and sexual assault.
A lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court of Central California alleges that in 2013 and 2014, Dolan "manipulated" and brought Kellye Croft, then a 27-year-old working as a licensed massage therapist, to Los Angeles and other places "under fraudulent pretenses for Dolan to engage in unlawful and unwelcome sex acts with her."
The federal lawsuit also alleges that Weinstein sexually assaulted Croft with Dolan's knowledge, and that the abuse was funded by Dolan's corporate entities, including some connected to veteran music industry executive Irving Azoff, who is not a defendant in the case.
“With the filing of today’s complaint, it is time to finally hold Dolan accountable for his outrageous conduct,” Douglas H. Wigdor, a lawyer for Croft, said in a statement.
Dolan's attorney E. Danya Perry said "there is absolutely no merit" to the allegations against her client and called them an "act of retaliation" by an attorney who has brought multiple claims against Dolan.
"Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims," Perry added. "Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court."
"Mr. Weinstein vehemently denies these meritless allegations and looks forward to litigating these claims in a court of law where the truth will be revealed," said a spokesperson for Weinstein.
Last year, Weinstein was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a woman at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013.
In December, another woman sued Weinstein for sexual assault and battery. Weinstein has denied wrongdoing.
He is already serving a 23-year prison sentence in New York, where he was convicted in 2020 of sexually assaulting other women.
A representative for Azoff said: “Irving Azoff is not a party to this lawsuit. Neither he nor his companies had any involvement in any alleged misconduct by others.”
Croft first met Dolan in 2013 while serving as a masseuse for Eagles lead singer Glenn Frey during their concert tour, according to the suit.
Dolan was a source of the tour's funding, and he opened for the band with his group, JD & The Straight Shot.
Croft alleges in the lawsuit that during the Miami leg of the tour, when she gave a massage to Dolan, who was 30 years her senior, he "pressured Ms. Croft into unwanted sexual intercourse with him," despite her protestations.
During the remainder of the tour, Croft alleges that Dolan, who was married, "summoned" her to his room multiple times, whereupon he made unwelcome advances and "she felt obligated to submit to sex with him."
According to the suit, "Dolan was extremely manipulative," reminding her constantly of how he "fixed" a situation for her that involved the tour's former manager with whom she had problems, as well as regularly name-dropping famous celebrities and sports figures.
Later during the tour, Croft said that a company owned by Azoff requested she fly from her home in Tennessee to California to work as a masseuse for the Eagles and other tour members. "In reality, Ms. Croft was flown out to Los Angeles for the purposes of engaging in unwanted sexual acts with Dolan," the complaint states.
"Dolan expected Ms. Croft to have sexual interactions with him during the tour, and she spent her time either isolated by herself or waiting for instructions from Dolan," the complaint states.
In January 2014, Croft claims that while in Los Angeles for the tour, she returned to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, a visit paid for by Dolan, to find Harvey Weinstein waiting near the elevator. The suit alleges that Weinstein introduced himself as a friend of Dolan's and suggested he might have work for her and brought her to his hotel suite.
Once in the suite, the lawsuit says, Weinstein suggested she try on clothes in her shopping bags, telling her that he was involved with the fashion show "Project Runway," before asking her to give him a massage.
Croft claims that after she told Weinstein that she didn't want to engage in a massage without the proper setup, the producer changed into a bathrobe and insisted she could use the bed for the massage. When she declined, he became increasingly "angry and irritated," telling her, “Well, this is just how people do things in Hollywood. If you will not be reasonable and are not able to handle requests on the fly, you won’t make it in Hollywood.”
When Croft attempted to leave the room, she says Weinstein blocked the door. After managing to get out and run to her own room, she claims Weinstein ran after her in his bathrobe, pushed his way into her room and sexually assaulted her.
According to the suit, when Croft told Dolan what had happened with Weinstein, he reacted by telling her that Weinstein was “a troubled person” who had a lot of “serious issues” and that his friends were “trying to get him to address” them. "Dolan intimated that Weinstein was not a 'safe' person but did little to console Ms. Croft or help her to report the assault to the authorities."
Dolan and Weinstein had been friends and Dolan served as a board member of the Weinstein Company in 2015.
In 2018, a year after explosive revelations that Weinstein had sexually assaulted and harassed multiple women, Dolan released a song that he wrote, "I Should've Known."
According to Croft's suit, she was among a group of friends who received an email in which Dolan "explained that the song was about his feelings about friends of his who were alleged to have used 'power to coerce or force sexual gratification' — a clear reference to his former best friend and now convicted sexual predator Harvey Weinstein."
The day after the alleged assault by Weinstein, Croft claims she was so physically and emotionally unwell that an Azoff executive sent a doctor to see her.
Croft states in her lawsuit that she returned home to Tennessee, but the incidents left her with "panic attacks" when she attempted to continue work as a massage therapist and that she turned to drugs and alcohol to assuage her feelings of guilt and shame.
Croft eventually gave up her career as a licensed masseuse and later went through "extensive rehabilitation to cope with her depression and the related substance use."
“I have suffered so profoundly because of what James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein did to me years ago, and it was not an easy decision to come forward and seek justice," Croft said in a statement. "But for me, to truly address my trauma, I need to seek accountability. James Dolan manipulated me, brought me to California to abuse me, and then set me up for a vicious attack by Weinstein. My hope is that my lawsuit will force Dolan to acknowledge what he did to me and to take responsibility for the harm he has caused.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.