NFL says writer 'humiliated,' fines Patriots

November 28, 1990|By Thomas George | Thomas George,New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the National Football League, yesterday fined Zeke Mowatt of the New England Patriots $12,500, two other players $5,000 each and the team $50,000 for a locker-room incident that the league found to have included conduct degrading to a female reporter.

Lisa Olson, a reporter for the Boston Herald, had charged that several Patriots players -- Mowatt chief among them -- had sexually abused her verbally and otherwise taunted her Sept. 17 while she was attempting to conduct an interview with Maurice Hurst, a Patriots cornerback.

A 60-page report on the incident compiled by Philip Heymann, a Harvard Law School professor who acted as a special counsel for Tagliabue, concluded that Olson was "degraded and

humiliated," primarily by Mowatt, Michael Timpson and Robert Perryman.

Timpson was fined $5,000, as was Perryman, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys.

Olson, who was not available for interviews yesterday, said in a statement released by the Herald: "My satisfaction with the investigation and subsequent sanctions is surpassed only by my wish the disgraceful incident had never occurred in the first place. It was not my choice to have this matter decided in a public forum, and it is unfortunate that Patriot management forced this to happen by not dealing with the guilty persons swiftly and decisively. My hope now is to be able to do my job: to serve the Boston Herald and its readers."

Tagliabue, in a letter to Victor Kiam, owner of the Patriots, called the episode "distasteful,unnecessary and damaging to the league and others."

"It included a mix of misconduct, insensitivity, misstatements and other inappropriate actions or inaction, all of which could and should have been avoided," the commissioner wrote.

The report said that Mowatt told Bruce Armstrong, a Patriots offensive lineman: "Look at her. She's just watching. I'm going to tell her about herself."

It said that Mowatt, naked, walked in front of Olson and onto a scale and "purposely displayed himself to her in a suggestive way," and that Perryman later did the same while her back was turned.

Timpson is cited as an instigator who helped keep laughter in the locker room going during the incident.

The report found that Mowatt's account of the incident was "not credible," adding, "He stated that he did not address Lisa Olson and that he did not even know where she was located when he weighed himself and went to the shower."

The report was critical of the Patriots' management, saying that no team official had intervened to defend Olson and that the team had failed to take any action before, during or immediately after the incident in trying to find the truth.

Tagliabue said in his letter to Kiam that the Patriots' management failed to comply with the league's policy on news-media access "in that the club did not adequately supervise its players, did not adequately investigate and resolve a serious incident of misconduct in the club's locker room and appeared to condone the misconduct of Patriots players." But he credited several in the organization for their cooperation.

The fines

The National Football League levied fines against three players and the New England Patriots totaling $72,500 in its ruling in the alleged sexual harassment of reporter Lisa Olson. The fines:

* Zeke Mowatt: $12,500.

* Michael Timpson: $5,000.

* Robert Perryman: $5,000.

* New England Patriots: $50,000 ($25,000 will be used for supplemental material for all NFL personnel on responsible dealings with the news media).

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