The NFL owns NFL Films. So anything that happens at NFL Films necessarily happens at the NFL. Which, given the specifics of the lawsuit filed last week against NFL Films, is bad news for the NFL.
The NJ.com article reporting on the existence of the litigation covers the basics but doesn’t delve into the details, which if true paint an ugly picture as to the interpersonal relationships at NFL Films. If false, the NFL needs to mobilize quickly to debunk the claims.
PFT has obtained a copy of the complaint, and here are some of the more eye-catching claims.
In 2006, former NFL Films V.P. of broadcasting Glenn Adamo arrived at the home of the plaintiff, Nadia Axakowsky to “pay a visit” while she was recovering from childbirth and dealing with symptoms of postpartum depression. At paragraph 36, the complaint claims that Adamo “proceed[ed] to attack Plaintiff.”
“He shoved her down on the couch,” the complaint asserts, “kissed her, and forcibly fondled and sexually groped Plaintiff.”
At paragraph 42, the complaint alleges that Adamo “was a serial harasser of women, and would often corner women in his office behind closed doors.”
At paragraph 43, the complaint contends that, in August 2012, Adamo “grabbed Plaintiff’s buttocks, groped and kissed her” during a hug that he had demanded after she received a raise.
The complaint claims at paragraph 46 that, at some point in or around 2012, Adamo asked to spent the night with Axakowsky, and he said he wanted to “smother [her] with millions of kisses,” and that he eventually “grabbed [her] by the head and kissed her.”
In paragraph 48, the complaint alleges that, after Adamo approved a guaranteed weekly salary for Axakowsky, he asked for a hug in his office. He then allegedly “proceeded to forcefully grab Plaintiff’s buttocks and push his penis into her,” telling her that “he wanted to have sex with Plaintiff on his desk and proceeded to shove his hand under Plaintiff’s shirt and grab her breasts.”
After she insisted that he stop and as she left the office, Adamo allegedly said (per paragraph 51), “Nadia, I don’t know how long I can keep you.”
According to paragraph 53, Adamo allegedly groped her again in his office, “reaching up her skirt and grabbing Plaintiff’s buttocks and pushing his penis against Plaintiff’s body.”
The lawsuit, triggered by the termination of Axakowsky’s employment (Adamo had previously left the company), alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation against her for her many internal complaints about sexual harassment, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In a statement issued last week to NJ.com, the league said the lawsuit has no merit, and that it will “vigorously defend” itself in court.
That process will begin with the NFL either filling a motion to dismiss the case or submitting a former written answer, which will respond to (and presumably deny) every factual allegation made.
If the case survives past the pleadings phase, the pre-trial discovery process will commence, featuring a wide range of witnesses testifying under oath. The most important witnesses will be Axakowsky, Adamo, and anyone who can credibly corroborate either of their stories.