MANHATTAN (CN) – Two women accuse Brett Favre of sexually harassing them when Favre played for the New York Jets. Both women are masseuses and also sued the Jets and the Jets “coordinator” who hired them. They claim the Jets never hired them again after one of their husbands asked Favre to apologize for his “inappropriate behavior”: trying to set up a meeting with his wife, emailing her that he had “bad intentions.”
Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole sued Favre, the Jets and Lisa Ripi, in New York County Court, for Favre’s alleged behavior in 2008. They say Ripi “is the coordinator far the Jets with respect to obtaining massage therapists for the Jets players at its training camp and at other locations.”
Scavo says she worked “for many years” as a massage therapist for the Jets, “at its Long Island training camp for various individual players and performed outcalls / outsourced treatments at other locations including players’ homes.” She says Ripi introduced her to the Jets and that “Ripi by her own admission was the go-to person if one wanted to be a massage therapist for the Jets and as she stated, ‘everything at the Jets went through me.’
“Significantly, the massage therapists for the Jets are predominantly women and young women,” the complaint states.
Scavo says she and other women were working at the Jets training camp in the summer of 2008.
The complaint states: “Shortly after Christina Scavo and another massage therapist had performed massages at the Jets training camp, the defendant Favre sent a text message to plaintiff Scavo’s fellow massage therapist, who had massaged Favre at camp earlier, stating, ‘Brett here you and crissy want to get together im all alone.'[sic].
“Thereafter the defendant Favre sent another text message to the same massage therapist, stating, ‘Kinda lonely tonight I guess I have bad intentions.’
“When plaintiff Christina Scavo brought these text messages concerning Favre’s solicitation of her and of his “bad intentions” to the attention of her husband, Joseph Scavo, Mr. Scavo decided to contact the defendant Favre.
“Mr. Scavo contacted the defendant Favre and requested that he stop soliciting his wife for ‘bad intentions’ or to get together with her. Mr. Scavo further requested that Favre apologize for his inappropriate behavior of sexual harassing Christina Scavo and other massage therapists.
“The defendant Favre responded in an inappropriate manner and refused to apologize or to take any other action.
“Following Mr. Scavo’s telephone call to the defendant Favre, shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole were never again called to provide massage therapy for the Jets.
The complaint continues: “Once the media reported that the Jets locker room and training camp were apparently a hot bed of sexual harassment, sexism and inappropriate behavior, naming such persons as the Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger, to whom the defendant Favre had apparently sent improper text messages and allegedly explicit photographs, and improper behavior involving the Mexican television reporter Ines Sainz, and a media report involving some unnamed massage therapists that the defendant Favre had likewise harassed, the defendant Ripi took it upon herself to send a text message to Christina Scavo on or about October 11,2010, in which she stated ‘everything at the Jets went through me and you know that.’
“The defendant Ripi further stated in that same text message, ‘why didn’t u come to me,’ and went on to state in colorful language, ‘Your husband is a complete asshole,’ and ‘thanks to you ill be quesationed by the nfl investigators. …'” [sic].
After further quotes from Ripi “waxing eloquently” in the email, the complaint adds: “Ms. Ripi’s conduct clearly indicates that there had been prior similar incidents which the Jets had taken care of and concealed the matters so that they would not be revealed to the media or the public.
“In telephone calls to plaintiff O’Toole, defendant Ripi threatened ‘Chrissy and you will never work for the Jets again’ and threatened plaintiff O’Toole to ‘keep your mouth shut’ and that other massage therapists should heed this warning as well.
“Ms. Ripi acknowledged Favre’s improper behavior: ‘For sure feel horrible that u had to go thru that w a pervert … however I truly wish u wldve came forward at the time it happened …you sureley wldve gotten the treatment you were looking for in the moment. He was wrong on all counts… and we cldve helped u a lot more at that time.'”[sic].
The masseuses say that Ripi “made good on her threats” and that neither of them was ever called to work for the Jets again, “nor did anyone from the Jets contact them to investigate or determine what had occurred.”
They say they “refrained from filing suit in the misguided hope that the NFL would take some meaningful action as against defendant Favre for his improper behavior with Ms. Scavo, Ms. Sterger and others.”
“Unfortunately, instead of taking any meaningful action, the NFL, after an alleged extensive investigation, which according to the media used former FBI agents and other extensive resources, provided no meaningful report, made no findings, waited until the regular football season was basically over and Favre was retiring from football and then reached the inexplicable and rather shocking conclusion that Favre did not violate any league policies regarding conduct in the workplace but rather merely failed to cooperate.”
They say the NFL imposed a “relatively meaningless fine of $50,000” on Favre for his alleged harassment of Jenn Sterger, “after probably spending a hundred times that amount on its alleged investigation and public relations attempt to derail any inquiry which would determine what occurred and to institute procedures to prevent the type of behavior Favre was accused of in the future.”
“Since the NFL took no action, the plaintiffs had no choice but to commence their own legal action to be permitted to work in their chosen profession without being harassed, to recover the damages they had suffered and hopefully, maybe someday, to deter players in the NFL from acting inappropriately with other women who are required to come into contact with football players within the scope of their work and to encourage other women who are harassed by professional athletes in the workplace to come forward without fear of retribution.”
They seek punitive damages for hostile work environment, state human rights violations, loss of work, retaliation, distress and mental anguish and damage to their careers.
They are represented by David Jaroslawicz and Elizabeth Ellender with Jaroslawicz & Jaros.
– By Robert Kahn, Courthouse News