PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Portland Thorns executives are taking a step back after a report, released by the former United States Attorney General, alleges sexual and emotional abuse by former coach Paul Riley and that executives were at aware of this behavior but failed to take appropriate action.
Owner Merritt Paulson says he, Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub will step back from any decision-making related to the Thorns until a joint National Women’s Soccer League and National Women’s League Players Association investigation is released. next month. A statement from Paulson said Monday was ‘the darkest day I’ve ever had’ and went on to say ‘I imagine it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly’ .
The report caused an outcry from fans – and team sponsors -.
“I think there are multiple levels where there has been failure and that needs to be recognized,” said Brandi Williams, general manager of Laurelwood Public House and Brewery.
Details of the report indicate that Thorns owner Merritt Paulson was aware of former coach Paul Riley’s inappropriate behavior towards former player Meleana Shim after an internal investigation by the Thorns in 2015.
Riley was fired and later hired by the Western New York Flash, the alleged misconduct was never made public.
The inquest found that then-general manager Gavin Wilkinson said Flash Riley had been “put in a bad position by the player” and would “hire Riley in a heartbeat”.
Local sponsor Laurelwood Brewing said it could not support those words. It was their first season as a sponsor of the Thorns.
“They made it known that they would continue to hire this coach, that there was a lot of blame for the victims, that’s the really inappropriate part,” Williams said. “I think not passing that knowledge on to future employers, you know, plus informing the league and their inaction is really something to be concerned about.”
The Rose City riveters are also devastated – they don’t know how they can still support the players in the upcoming playoffs.
“Many of us are unfortunately also survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, so it takes a long time to get through that and process everything in some way. So it’s still being discussed, we’re not quite sure what it’s going to look like yet,” said Rose City Riveters Steering Committee Member Tina Ettlin.
As for Laurelwood’s future with the Thorns? This will depend on the complete resignation of the leaders. Williams said Paulson’s statement on Tuesday was not enough.
“They can take a step back for now, but so what? what does it change ? What helps? I don’t think that changes or helps anyone,” she said.
Another sponsor released a statement on its website today. Alaska Airlines said: “We are deeply concerned by the findings of the independent report by Sally Q. Yates, commissioned by US Soccer. We recognize the immense courage of the soccer players and others who have come forward.
As a long-time partner of Portland Thorns and Timbers FC, our priority is to support players and ensure that any action we take contributes to positive systemic change. We are currently evaluating options to achieve these goals.
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