Applauding a sports organization for responsibly handling sexual misconduct rarely happens, so if you’re willing to praise a team before all the details are released — even if they released the problematic player, exec, or coach — it’s best to wait. I almost wrote the same San Antonio Spurs piece as my coworker D.J. Dunson, who commended the team for parting ways with lottery pick Josh Primo before we even knew he allegedly exposed himself to women, including the team’s staff psychologist, Hilary Cauthen.
The more cases like this arise, the more cynical my view is of any party “doing the right thing” — outside of the victim bravely reporting the malfeasance, of course. With this San Antonio situation, it felt a little too close to trying to get ahead of a potential lawsuit to give them any flowers for cutting bait with an asset they spent precious capital to acquire.
Well, during a news conference Thursday with Cauthen and her attorney, Tony Buzbee, the lawyer who also represented most of the women that accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, the two alleged that San Antonio failed to appropriately react when she informed them of Primo’s repeated offenses. Both the team and free agent guard are being sued over the alleged indecent exposure, per a lawsuit filed Thursday in Bexar County, Texas.
Primo’s attorney, William J. Briggs II, released a lengthy statement denying any wrongdoing on his client’s behalf. The statement read in part:
“Josh Primo is at the beginning of a promising career and has been devastated by these false allegations and release by the Spurs. He is in the process seeking treatment to deal with the trauma inflicted on him by Dr. Cauthen’s misleading allegations, in addition to the previous trauma he suffered as a child. He looks forward to clearing his name and to moving forward with his NBA career.”
According to the suit, Cauthen notified GM Brian Wright about Primo in January before having a meeting with Wright about it in March, where she expressed her discomfort over working with the rookie guard alone.
Then in April, after the teams kept calling on her to meet with Primo, she informed Wright about further concerns and frustration over treating him, the suit says. After Wright asked her “what consequence” she felt would be appropriate, she told him the team needs to address the situation, and the GM responded that the franchise’s legal team would be in contact.
She then met with lawyers and legal counsel for the Spurs, who disclosed to her an investigation would be opened, said she should avoid contact with Primo, and that a write-up was coming, according to the suit.
When she asked about the status of the inquiry a week or so later, the team’s deputy general counsel and head of human resources told her Primo was going to continue to participate in team activities and suggested that she work from home, according to the suit.
When Cauthen met with team reps again in June, they said they had spoken to Primo, and wondered if she would be open to having a conversation with him, the suit says. She declined to take the meeting with her alleged harasser.
And this isn’t in the suit, but rather my opinion: Who the fuck could blame her?
At a later meeting the same month, the dynamic duo of Spurs stooges disclosed to Cauthen that the team is mulling over fixes to the timely reporting of incidents, according to the lawsuit. She was even told that head coach Gregg Popovich was aware of the situation and “wanted to do right by her.”
The team didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Athletic.
So, if these allegations are true, the Spurs knew about Primo more than 10 months ago, failed to take the claims of a team employee seriously, kept asking her to meet with an alleged abuser, then suggested she avoid him and work from home, offered up some sham of an investigation, asked her to have a conversation about it, offered up sham fixes to their broken system, and only cut ties with the problem employee a mere week before a lawsuit was announced.
Now that sounds more like the incompetent, out-of-touch, bumbling sports organizations that I know and loathe.