Longtime quarterback Warren Moon, in his first public comments since being accused of sexual harassment by an assistant for his sports marketing firm, denied the allegations against him and said that he had "witnesses that would testify" to their inaccuracy.
Moon, speaking to Seattle's KIRO Radio 97.3 FM early Thursday, disputed as "totally untrue" Wendy Haskell's allegations that Moon made "unwanted and unsolicited" sexual advances as part of her role as his assistant working for Sports 1 Marketing.
"I know this subject of harassment and assault and different things in the workplace by women is a very serious subject right now," Moon said in the extensive interview, "and a lot of women have held a lot of these feelings in for a long time, and are coming out and expressing these feelings, and they should be applauded for that. And I applaud those women for doing that. But in this particular situation, in my case, it just doesn't apply."
In the lawsuit filed early this month in Orange County (California) Superior Court, Haskell says she was hired as an executive assistant to Moon last summer. The lawsuit states that Haskell was forced to sleep in the same bed with Moon on business trips while wearing lingerie. Haskell says she complained about the arrangement, but Moon responded, "this was the way it was."
On Thursday, Moon elaborated on that further by saying, "at times we did share rooms together, and at other times we didn't."
"It just depended on the situation of where we were," the former NFL star said. "Sometimes she was with other girlfriends and she stayed with them, or sometimes she just met me on her own."
Moon told KIRO that he felt it was not unusual for him to share a hotel room with Haskell, his then-assistant at Sports 1 Marketing. Moon, a Hall of Famer who played parts of 17 seasons in the NFL with Houston, Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City, is the co-founder and president of the company.
"To me, it's not, only because of my history with women in general," Moon said. "I've done this with many other women, I've been able to if the situation arises that they needed somewhere to stay or whatever, they would stay with me. And they knew that there wasn't going to be any threat because of the respect that they have for me. So I can get a big number of women that would come forward and tell you those same things, that every time they were around me, they'd never feel any type of threat from me and they feel very comfortable around me, and it was no different with her."
He later conceded, however, that it was "probably not the smartest thing to do, to share a room with somebody."
According to the lawsuit, Haskell also says she was drugged by Moon during a trip to Mexico in October. The suit states that Moon acknowledged drugging Haskell because he thought she wasn't "having fun." She also says Moon pulled off her swimsuit during the Mexico trip.
In referencing this specific set of allegations, Moon said there was "no truth to that at all."
Moon added that while the two had previously shared meals and a hotel room on business trips as part of her role as his assistant, their relationship was always a convivial one, and always platonic.
"It never became [romantic] because neither of us sought that," Moon said in the interview.
He continued by saying: "We both had come out of long-term relationships. She was actually dating some different guys in her life, and I was very aware of that and I had no problem with that; there was a big age difference between us, so where she wanted to go in her life as far as maybe being married one day maybe having kids, that's not where I was going in my life. But we had a connection with one another as far as just enjoying each other's company."
Haskell contends in the lawsuit that she reported Moon's behavior to Sports 1 Marketing CEO David Meltzer but that the company did not investigate her claims. Haskell says she was demoted after making the complaints.
Moon's attorney, Daniel F. Fears, said in a statement earlier this month that the 61-year-old Moon had requested a leave of absence from his role as a radio commentator for the Seattle Seahawks, duties that "will be impacted as he defends himself against these claims." The team said it had granted the request.
The lawsuit 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 said he offered 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 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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.