PAPER MARK CUBAN SEX ASSAULT COMPLAINT
Copyright by City of Roses Newsmedia Co. 2018
Content warning: This story contains a detailed allegation of sexual assault.
In May 2011, a woman contacted the Portland Police Bureau to make an allegation against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and one of the most visible figures in entertainment and sports.
Her complaint? That Cuban had sexually assaulted her late one night at an Old Town nightclub.
The woman told police she encountered Cuban in late April at the Barrel Room, at 105 NW 3rd Ave., and asked him to pose with her for a photograph. While they smiled for the camera, she claimed, he thrust his hand down the back of her jeans and penetrated her vagina with his finger.
The alleged assault—and a full transcript of Cuban's response to the accusation—are detailed in a police report WW obtained via a public records request.
The allegation has never previously been reported. After an investigation, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office determined there was insufficient evidence to press criminal charges.
Seven years later, however, there is a national movement to examine the behavior of powerful men. And on Feb. 20, Sports Illustrated published a searing investigation of the workplace culture in the Mavericks' front office, portraying an organization "rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior: alleged public fondling by the team president; outright domestic assault by a high-profile member of the Mavs.com staff; unsupportive or even intimidating responses from superiors."
Although the article does not implicate him, people the magazine interviewed expressed disbelief that Cuban, known for his granular involvement in the team's operations—he even selects the towels players use in the locker room, according to a Slate profile—could have been unaware.
Cuban reacted strongly to the revelations, pledging reforms.
"I feel sick to my stomach," he told Sports Illustrated. "There's a problem in the Mavericks organization and we've got to fix it."
It's unclear exactly what happened at the Barrel Room in April 2011. The 50-page police report portrays an alleged victim deeply upset—and Cuban adamant that nothing happened.
The woman, whom WW is not naming because she's the alleged victim of sexual assault, agreed to a brief interview after WW obtained the police report and contacted her. She says she never contacted the media or sought publicity or compensation from Cuban and has put the incident behind her.
"I really left it in the past," she says. "I haven't thought about it for seven years."
Now married and in her mid-30s, the woman works in the medical field and enjoys hiking with her yellow Lab. "I have a wonderful life," she says. "I'm a happy person."
But she's sticking to her story.
"I filed the report because what he did was wrong," she adds. "I stand behind that report 1,000 percent."
Although the DA decided not to press charges, the police report does provide an unusual window into the mind of a man who has talked about running for president and is familiar to audiences worldwide for railing at NBA referees and judging entrepreneurs on the ABC reality show Shark Tank.
Cuban's attorney, Stephen Houze, strongly denies the allegations against Cuban:
"These allegations are thoroughly investigated by the Multnomah County District's Attorney's Office and the Portland Police Bureau," Houze said in a statement. "According to the detailed prosecution decline memo, investigators interviewed the complainant's boyfriend and female friend, as well as employees and patrons of the bar, and other persons with Mr. Cuban and no one observed any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Cuban.
"This incident never happened and her accusations are false."
Cuban was in Portland on Friday, April 22, 2011, for a playoff game the following day between the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers.
On the night of the 22nd, he would later tell a Portland Police Bureau detective, he arrived around midnight at the Barrel Room, an Old Town nightclub known for its dueling piano players and rowdiness. That year, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission cited the bar for a "history of serious and persistent problems."
Cuban initially said he didn't remember anything unusual about his evening.
"We watched the Lakers game [on television] and then we went to that bar," Cuban told Portland Police Detective Brendan McGuire in a June 8, 2011, telephone interview. "And you know, that was pretty much it."
The woman told police she arrived at the Barrel Room at about 11:30 pm with her boyfriend and another friend.
The woman's boyfriend recognized Cuban, who was standing under a large tent outside the bar, and suggested the woman get her picture taken with the Mavericks owner, as others were doing. She said she didn't really know who Cuban was and didn't want to wait in line for a photo.
But around 2 am, the woman said, she and her friend went to pay their tab and encountered Cuban, who was standing by himself.
"It was apparent he was very drunk," the woman's friend later told police. "His eyes were half closed, he was unstable on his feet, and he was slurring his words."
The alleged victim asked Cuban to pose for a picture.
She told police that Cuban initially placed his right hand on her lower back.
"He then moved his hand down until it was on her buttocks," according to McGuire's summary of the alleged victim's statement. "Cuban then pushed his hand down the back of her jeans and inside her underwear where he cupped his hand over her groin area and inserted the tip of his finger into her vagina."
Initially, the woman told police, she was conflicted about what to do after the alleged incident.
The woman said her family urged her to report Cuban's behavior. She waited more than a week before contacting police.
When she finally sat down for a full interview with a detective, more than two weeks after the alleged incident, the woman explained her reluctance, saying she hoped the report could remain confidential so there would be no publicity. She told police she did not want to be "labeled 'that girl' and involved in a sex scandal with Mark Cuban."
The woman submitted seven cellphone images to police as evidence. (WW requested copies of the photos with the woman's face obscured to protect her identity. The bureau withheld the photos, citing the personal privacy exemption of the state public records law.)
In one of his reports, Detective McGuire, a 22-year bureau veteran, described two of the photos as "significant."
"In both images, Cuban's right shoulder is lowered and he appears to be stretching to reach his arm down," McGuire's report says. "In one of the pictures, his arm can be seen behind [the alleged victim] and it appears Cuban is reaching down toward her buttocks."
McGuire also noted the alleged victim's expression: "Her teeth are clenched, eyes wider than the other pictures and brow raised showing a look of surprise and strain."
After the woman told McGuire her account of the evening, the detective interviewed the two people who'd been with her at the Barrel Room.
The woman's female friend said the alleged victim grabbed her by the wrist right after the incident, according to the police report, and led her outside. There, she told her friend what had happened. The alleged victim was "disturbed and angry," the friend told police.
The woman's boyfriend was "intoxicated and incensed when she told him of the incident," the police report says. "He wanted to go back into the club and confront Cuban."
But the alleged victim thought that since her boyfriend was drunk, allowing him back inside would only make matters worse. They left in a taxi.
Police also interviewed bartenders and security guards at the Barrel Room but none of them said they'd seen anything.
Then it was time to approach Cuban.
It's unclear from the police report whether Cuban knew McGuire would be calling. But an 18-page transcript shows that rather than summoning a lawyer, the Mavericks owner engaged the detective in a lengthy, free-flowing conversation.
Cuban responded to McGuire's questions with a firm denial that mixed shock, disbelief and self-pity.
"If she told five friends right there and then, then that's what they're gonna tell the judge and I'm gonna be fucked," Cuban said. "Oh my God, I don't know what to do."
Cuban gave McGuire the names of two people who'd been with him at the Barrel Room: Lindsay McCormick, a television reporter who had worked for the Blazers, and Kevin Love, the NBA star who'd grown up in Lake Oswego and then played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"There was tons of people around," Cuban told McGuire. "I kept on…chest bumping Kevin Love."
The detective subsequently contacted both McCormick and Love. Neither recalled seeing or hearing anything.
As McGuire continued his investigation, Cuban hired Stephen Houze, a top Portland criminal defense lawyer. Houze went to extraordinary lengths.
Records show that three days after Detective McGuire called Cuban, Houze ordered a polygraph test conducted by former Miami Police Detective Sgt. Warren Holmes, a lie-detector expert. The test results supported Cuban's denial.
A week after the interview, two urologists on the faculty of the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C., provided Houze a written opinion that Cuban could not physically have committed the crime of which he was accused.
"[Cuban] is a large male with large hands, making penetration without lubrication of the woman in the standing position virtually impossible," the doctors wrote.
Doug Harcleroad, who served as Lane County district attorney for 25 years, says neither piece of information necessarily means much. Polygraph results have never been admissible in Oregon courts, he says, and medical experts' testimony can vary widely depending on who's paying.
"I'm sure you could find another expert who would say the opposite," Harcleroad says.
Meg Garvin, director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Portland, says prosecutors often shy away from prosecuting sex crimes in the absence of physical evidence.
"There's a higher bar than for other types of crimes," Garvin says.
In July, McGuire presented the results of his investigation to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.
"The case detective and the complainant both agree with the conclusion there is no corroborative evidence to support the complainant's allegation," wrote senior deputy DA Don Rees on July 27, 2011.
"Because all leads have been exhausted and there remains a lack of physical or substantial circumstantial evidence," McGuire wrote July 28, 2011, "I recommend the case be suspended."
The nonprofit WW Fund for Investigative Journalism provided support for this story.
Grilling Cuban: The transcript of a Portland Police detective's interview with Mark Cuban.
When Portland Police Detective Brendan McGuire telephoned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on June 8, 2011, to ask him about an alleged sexual assault, it was no ordinary phone call.
Portland police interview suspects every day, but they rarely tackle someone of Cuban's reach and power.
Cuban, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $3.7 billion, who has 7.7 million Twitter followers and, according to ESPN, is "the [NBA's] most outgoing owner," took McGuire's call directly, rather than referring the detective to his attorney.
"How are you?" McGuire began.
"Um, you tell me," Cuban replied.
The conversation that followed reveals the detective's attempts to pry information from Cuban and the discomfort of the billionaire. McGuire gets Cuban to describe the evening, while initially withholding key information—that there are "significant" cellphone images of Cuban and the alleged victim.
"If what she is alleging were true," McGuire said, "that would be a sex abuse in the second degree, which is a felony."
"Oh my Lord," Cuban said. "Oh my fucking Lord."
Here are the excerpts:
June 8, 2011
Mark Cuban: This is Mark.
Brendan McGuire: This is Mark Cuban? Good afternoon. This is Detective McGuire with the Portland police.
Cuban: Hi, Detective McGuire. How are you?
McGuire: I'm good. How are you?
Cuban: Um, you tell me. [laughs]
McGuire: Were you ever at a nightclub or bar that had like a tent set up out in…?
Cuban: Why? What's the situation?
McGuire: Well, there's a gal who is alleging that you did some inappropriate touching while at that club.
Cuban: Are you serious?
McGuire: Unfortunately, yeah.
Cuban: I mean the bar was packed. There were people around us the whole time. How could I inappropriately touch anybody?
McGuire: Well, that's the allegation. I take it…
Cuban: There were people taking pictures left and right.
McGuire: Do you have any recollection of any of those particular instances taking pictures with anybody?
Cuban: No. I mean, I take pictures all night long. Look, there was a bunch of, there were multiple athletes there. There were a bunch of players there.
McGuire: Who else was there?
Cuban: Um, Kevin Love, there were a bunch of people there, and I don't want to put out names. I mean, there were a lot of people there.
Cuban: Look, I'm, I'm, I'm not gonna sit here, I, how did she say I touched her? Look, people, people hug me. People grab me. People grab onto me all the time.
McGuire: Sure.Read More...