Dion Earl was on the speaker phone with his wife, Laurel, explaining why he never could've sexually assaulted that cheerleader. "Have you ever seen a picture of my wife?" he asked. "My wife is 10 times better looking than Elizabeth." Laurel laughed.
Our subject was the lawsuit filed by two former dancers against Earl, who is the owner, coach, and star of the Major Arena Soccer League's Seattle Impact. The women, Jessilyn Roberts and Elizabeth Buslon, allege that Earl was "more passionate about luring 'smoking hot' dancers than he was about a soccer team." Earl and his wife were talking to me on Monday in an effort to convince me otherwise, insisting that he is not a predator, that he is being targeted by Tinder-haunting women looking to make a buck. And Earl, I was given to understand, is not one to be fucked with. At one point, he told me about the time he scuffled with some skateboarders who refused to leave a tennis court, an incident that culminated in his snapping a board in two over his knee.
In all, we had a fairly odd conversation, and it seems altogether fitting that our communication ended with a series of emails in which Earl pretty much shot himself in the dick.
We'll get to that in a minute. First, there were the allegations to address. They include Earl rubbing Roberts's inner thigh and putting his mouth on her breast while in a private room in a strip club, and Earl later attempting to forcibly have sex with Buslon while pinning her against an ottoman in his home.
Dion was adamant that the allegations are false. "I have never assaulted a woman in my entire life," Dion told me. "I'm not perfect, but at 42 years old I can say that I've never even been drunk. I've never smoked or done any drugs. I'm as pure as pure can be."
In the lawsuit, Roberts claims that Dion sexually assaulted her after taking her and a stripper into a private room at a Seattle strip club. Dion admits that he and one of his players, Gordy Gurson, did in fact go to a strip club with Roberts, but that no assault took place and that it was actually Gurson who took Roberts into a private room with him. "Maybe it was inappropriate to take her to a strip club," Laurel admitted, before offering an explanation: "I have personally gone to strip clubs with my husband, because we like the atmosphere. We just like to sit and have a quiet drink."
Laurel saw another hole in Roberts's story: the allegation that Dion gave $500 to the stripper in the private room and told her, "You're going to get spoiled tonight. I'm going to spoil the hell out of you." Says Laurel: "First of all, my husband would never carry $500 into the strip club. He's cheap."
Then there's the allegation, as detailed in the same lawsuit, that Dion sexually assaulted Elizabeth Buslon when she came to his house for what she thought was a planning meeting about a promotional trip to Chicago. Dion told me that no such assault took place, and that he actually rebuffed Buslon after she came onto him. Laurel added that Buslon went and coached her middle school dance team after leaving the house, so she "must have been fine."
Laurel and Dion also made a point of letting me know that Jessilyn Roberts and Elizabeth Buslon are active on Tinder. "The thing about these girls, is that they are all on Tinder, 24/7, looking to hook up," Dion explained. "One of my players told me, 'Tinder is the site for if you wanna fuck somebody.' And one of them did end up fucking one of my dancers." He went on, incredulous: "If you're emotionally distraught, why are you on Tinder trying to hook up with my players and everyone else in a five-mile radius?"
Laurel was eager to send me screenshots of the women's Tinder profiles (she emailed them to me after we got off the phone), and also wanted me to know that one of the plaintiffs "had sex all over my house" with Gordy Gurson. She added that "no self-respecting woman" would have sex with somebody in the house of an alleged sexual predator.
Eventually I got around to asking Dion about the time he was dismissed from his job as high school soccer coach because he'd pursued an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old cheerleader. According to his termination letter, Dion invited the girl over to his home to watch the movie Scream, and then asked her if she would like to go water skiing with him.
"I did not ask that girl out on a date," he told me. "I was 22 or 23 years old at the time, and I knew she was friends with a couple of the players on my team, so I invited her to a team function. We were going to have dinner and watch Scream at my house, and then go water skiing at the lake that Saturday.
"What people fail to understand is what a tumultuous situation I came into," he explained. "I was being talked about as one of the top soccer coaches in that area, and I replaced a guy who had been the coach for 20 years and was still a teacher at the school. He was bitter, and I didn't realize what kind of hot seat I was in."
Throughout our conversation, Dion insisted that he's not the "monster" that the lawsuit he is facing shows him to be. He believes he is being targeted by "dirt poor" women who are simply looking for a payday. "If anyone should be feeing used, violated, or assaulted, it's me," he said.
Shortly after our conversation ended, Dion called me back and put Gordy Gurson on the phone. Gurson told me that he "supports Dion Earl 100 percent," and that he was the one who took Jessilyn Roberts into the private room in the strip club. He also told me that he was at Dion's house, upstairs, while the alleged assault on Buslon took place (the lawsuit claims that nobody else was home when Dion assaulted Buslon). "I was on the phone upstairs the whole time she was there," he told me. "I was on the phone for about seven minutes, and when I got off, Elizabeth was already gone. I didn't see or hear anything."
Dion also sent me screenshots of some text messages that Gurson sent him on Sunday. Just two guys having a normal chat here:
But then Dion sent me a screenshot of another conversation he had with Gurson, which I don't believe he'd meant to send me. It appears to have taken place just over an hour after the above messages were sent:
That sure as hell looks like Gurson saying that he'd sent those previous text messages only because Dion threatened him with a benching if he didn't. I asked Dion to explain, and he sent me the following email:
Gordy blew out of town to CHI shortly after this crap came out. I told him when he came back, he'd be benched for a game. He's my top salesman and is the only one who brings sponsorships. Plus, he blew out on an appearance. That's all that meant.
Then I called Gordy Gurson and asked him if he remembered this text conversation. At first, Gurson was confused, and told me he "honestly didn't know" what those messages were about. I read the message he sent to Dion out loud a few times, but it still wasn't ringing any bells. Finally, after reading the message one more time, Gurson remembered.
"That was in regards to me saying that I was in the house when Elizabeth was there," he told me. I asked Gurson point blank if Dion had threatened to bench him unless he told people that he was in the house but didn't see or hear anything while the alleged assault on Elizabeth took place.
"That is correct," said Gurson. He didn't mention anything about going to Chicago.