Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks were contacted last September by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Tony Ronzone in a Las Vegas hotel room last July, according to a report from Sports Illustrated. The woman's identity is being withheld for her protection and she is called "Sarah" by the reporters who deemed her account credible.
The Mavericks previously dealt with issues of sexual misconduct following an investigative report in 2018 by Sports Illustrated. The Mavericks contributed $10 million to organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence as part of its sanction by the NBA.
Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall told Sports Illustrated that the team investigated the matter, and Ronzone remains with the team, because “there was no evidence presented of sexual assault.”
A lawyer for Ronzone denied Sarah’s account in a statement, describing her claims as “meritless.” Ronzone has been in the Dallas front office since 2012 and also worked for USA Basketball.
Sarah told multiple people her account of the incident in its direct aftermath—including one person, in a phone call, minutes after she says it happened.
Contemporaneous accounts are considered critical and potentially weighty in cases with no eye witnesses.
According to emails viewed by Sports Illustrated, Sarah’s lawyers offered attorneys working for the Mavericks access to sworn statements from those individuals, contingent on the team agreeing to a nondisclosure agreement, but attorneys for the franchise did not respond.
Sarah alleges that Ronzone first tried to kiss her, sticking his tongue down her throat. When she said “no,” and added that she was married, he said, “It doesn’t matter. We’re in Vegas. No one’s going to know.”
Sarah says Ronzone threw her onto the bed with force and straddled her. She recalls telling Ronzone: “You’re making me feel really uncomfortable right now.”
Sarah took out her phone and, at 3:57 a.m., according to phone records provided to SI, called another acquaintance from the basketball world, a former Homeland Security federal agent who is now a security consultant for an NBA team in the Eastern Conference. Her friend suggested she call the police and file a report.
“[Sarah] sounded very upset,” the former agent said in the declaration. He then described what Sarah told him that night, an account that aligns with her story today. “While [Sarah] was in his room, he aggressively forced himself on her,” the agent recalled Sarah saying. “He pushed her down on the bed and got on top of her and was forcefully kissing her. [Sarah] told me she was resisting and refusing.”
Sarah and Ronzone communicated via text over the following few weeks.
As a result of the 2018 investigation, the Mavericks are required to immediately report to the NBA any instances or allegations of significant misconduct by an employee. The NBA tells SI that the Mavericks did report the incident, as well as the existence of the team’s ongoing investigation, in November.