Ex-bar employee: Mark Cuban seemed drunk, 'gropey' on night of alleged 2011 sexual assault

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talks during a news conference Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Dallas. (AP)
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talks during a news conference Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Dallas. (AP)

A security worker on duty at the Portland, Ore., nightclub where a woman alleged Mark Cuban sexually assaulted her in 2011 says that the Dallas Mavericks owner appeared drunk enough that night that he was eventually asked to leave the bar, and described Cuban as “gropey toward” the women with whom he took photographs, according to The Oregonian.

The Portland alternative weekly publication Willamette Week reported Tuesday that Portland police in April 2011 had investigated a claim that Cuban, in town for the Mavericks’ playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, had “thrust his hand down the back of [a woman’s] jeans and penetrated her vagina with his finger” while posing for a picture. That investigation did not lead to Cuban’s arrest or the filing of criminal charges, as the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office “determined there was insufficient evidence” to move forward with prosecution.

The lawyer Cuban hired in 2011 to represent him in the matter has claimed the woman — whom Willamette Week did not identify, as she is the alleged victim of a sexual assault — made false allegations against his client. “It didn’t happen,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News, among other media outlets, this week via email.

Reached by the Willamette Week, though, the alleged victim held firm: “I filed the report because what he did was wrong. I stand behind that report 1,000 percent.”

According to the Willamette Week, investigators interviewed several bartenders and security guards at the Barrel Room nightclub, “but none of them said they’d seen anything.” On Wednesday, Christopher White — a security worker at the Barrel Room who says he was on duty that night, but whom police never interviewed — told the Oregonian that he saw Cuban “with his entourage and witnessed Cuban putting his arm around a woman for a photo:”

“She jumped away like she was not happy with him,” White, 33, said in an interview Wednesday with The Oregonian/OregonLive. “That’s when the energy in the room kind of exploded.” […]

White’s recollections are the first reported from an independent eyewitness who offers support for the woman’s account.

“I didn’t have a camera on his hand,” said White, who held various positions at the Northwest Third Avenue club between 2010 and 2014. “But it sure looked like it was too low to be just on her back.”

Saying he was relying on his memory of the events of seven years ago, White supported the alleged victim’s friend’s assertion that Cuban was “very drunk.” He told the Oregonian that Cuban “seemed very drunk when he arrived,” “was sweating and his hair looked messy,” and “slurred his words and gestured wildly as he interacted with people.” (“He was slinking around all over the place,” White said. “I believe we told him we couldn’t serve him any alcohol.”)

Working crowd control on the night in question, here’s how White described the scene around Cuban at the Barrel Room:

Club patrons were enthralled by the presence of the public figure, who also stars on the ABC show “Shark Tank” and has publicly toyed with running for president, White said. Some snapped photos of Cuban and tried to touch him.

Cuban would point his finger at women with whom he wanted to be photographed and beckoned them, White said. The way Cuban touched some of the women struck White as inappropriate because his hands moved well below the middle of their backs, he said.

“He was, like, really kind of gropey toward them,” White said. “It just wasn’t how you’d normally pose in a picture with someone.”

White said he was standing about 20 feet away from the woman and Cuban when the photo was being taken. He did not tell the Oregonian that he saw Cuban reach into the woman’s pants.

“She definitely jumped after he had put his arm around her,” White said.

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reported that a Mavericks source “said that the organization was confident that” the resurfaced 2011 allegations “were unfounded, although the alleged victim maintained that it happened.” Cuban’s attorney, Jacob Houze, dismissed White’s statement.

“This former employee of the bar who is coming forward today, seven years later, says he was watching Mr. Cuban at the critical moment when the photographs were being taken and Mr. Cuban did not put his hand in the complainant’s pants,” Houze told the Oregonian in a statement. “This former employee’s claims about Mr. Cuban’s interactions with other patrons and employees are directly refuted by all the witnesses who were interviewed by the police. Once again, this did not happen.”

The report about the 2011 allegation comes two weeks after Sports Illustrated published an investigation into a Mavericks “corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior.” The SI story included allegations of serial sexual harassment of female employees by former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, as well as separate instances of domestic violence by former team beat writer Earl K. Sneed, who remained on staff in what Cuban would later call “a horrible mistake.”

In the wake of the SI report, the Mavericks hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation into the depths of the franchise’s harassment issues over the past two decades. The NBA has said it is closely monitoring the investigation. The Mavericks have also hired a new interim CEO, Cynthia Marshall, who made it clear that the organization would strive to create “a workplace where there is zero tolerance for sexual harassment, domestic violence or any type of inappropriate behavior.”

NBA spokesman Mike Bass told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the league is looking into the matter.

“The NBA league office is reviewing the 2011 allegations against Mark Cuban and the subsequent findings from the Portland police investigation,” he said.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!