Warren Moon sued for sexual harassment by assistant at his sports marketing firm
RENTON, Wash. -- Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual battery in a lawsuit filed by a female employee of his sports marketing firm and will take a leave of absence from his role on Seattle Seahawks radio broadcasts.
The Seahawks released a statement on Wednesday saying the team has accepted Moon's request for a leave. The statement did not list a reason.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court in California. Wendy Haskell said Moon made "unwanted and unsolicited" sexual advances toward her while she was working for Sports 1 Marketing as Moon's assistant. The lawsuit lists Moon as president and co-owner of the Irvine, California-based company.
Haskell told The Washington Post through her attorney that she wishes to have her name made public.
Moon's attorney, Daniel Fears, issued a statement Thursday saying Moon denies the allegations. "Mr. Moon contends these claims are meritless, and he has every intention to vigorously defend himself in court," the statement read.
"Mr. Moon recognizes that his duties as a commentator on the Seattle Seahawks radio network will be impacted as he defends himself against these claims, and he has requested a temporary leave of absence from his duties with the Seahawks, which has been granted."
The lawsuit alleges that soon after Haskell was hired in July 2017, Moon demanded that she "submit to a variety of unnerving sexual and perverse controlling arrangements, including sleeping in the same bed with him on all business trips, providing him unfettered access to the bathroom every time she showered, wearing skimpy lingerie while in the obligatory single room, obtaining prior approval for her wardrobe, and being subjected to continuous unwanted and unsolicited sexual advances."
According to the lawsuit, Moon drugged Haskell's drink without her consent during a business trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Haskell said she began feeling strange and asked Moon if he had put something in her drink, which he then admitted to doing, she said, telling her he did so because he thought she wasn't "having fun." On the same trip, according to the lawsuit, Moon pulled off Haskell's bathing suit while they were on the beach, despite her pleas with him to stop.
On another business trip to Seattle, she said, Moon grabbed her crotch while she was sleeping.
After rejecting another one of Moon's alleged sexual advances, Haskell said Moon wrote in an email to her the following day that if she wasn't comfortable with his demands, he would "find someone who doesn't have inhibitions about the job."
According to the lawsuit, the Cabo incidents occurred after Haskell complained to the company's CEO about Moon's behavior. She said the company did nothing to address the matter. Haskell accuses the company of retaliating against her by giving her a demotion that included reduced compensation.
Haskell's attorney, Diana L. Fitzgerald of Miami, told The Washington Post that Haskell did not report any of Moon's conduct, including the alleged sexual battery, to police.
"I think she was scared," Fitzgerald told the Post, adding, "She was expecting to further her career in the sports marketing industry. She had no idea that her job duties were going to involve that kind of perverse protocol."
This is not the first time that Moon has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In May 1995, while he was quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Moon was sued by a Vikings cheerleader who accused him of offering her cash for sex. The case was settled out of court.
Two months later, Moon was arrested in Houston after his wife, Felicia, told police that he struck her on the head and choked her before she escaped from the couple's home. The case went to trial, and Moon was acquitted when his wife testified she had initiated the violence. The two later divorced.
Moon, 61, made nine Pro Bowls during his 17-year NFL career, which included stints with the Houston Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Moon, who played collegiately at the University of Washington, is in his 14th season as an analyst on Seahawks radio broadcasts. According to the team's statement, former Seahawks players Brock Huard and Dave Wyman will replace Moon indefinitely.