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Content warning: This story contains a detailed allegation of sexual assault.
In May 2011, a woman contacted the Portland Police Bureau to make an allegation against Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and one of the most visible figures in entertainment and sports.
Her complaint? That Cuban had sexually assaulted her late one night at an Old Town nightclub.
The woman told police she encountered Cuban in late April at the Barrel Room, at 105 NW 3rd Ave., and asked him to pose with her for a photograph. While they smiled for the camera, she claimed, he thrust his hand down the back of her jeans and penetrated her vagina with his finger.
The alleged assault—and a full transcript of Cuban's response to the accusation—are detailed in a police report WW obtained via a public records request.
The allegation has never previously been reported. After an investigation, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office determined there was insufficient evidence to press criminal charges.
Seven years later, however, there is a national movement to examine the behavior of powerful men. And on Feb. 20, Sports Illustrated published a searing investigation of the workplace culture in the Mavericks' front office, portraying an organization "rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior: alleged public fondling by the team president; outright domestic assault by a high-profile member of the Mavs.com staff; unsupportive or even intimidating responses from superiors."
Although the article does not implicate him, people the magazine interviewed expressed disbelief that Cuban, known for his granular involvement in the team's operations—he even selects the towels players use in the locker room, according to a Slate profile—could have been unaware.
Cuban reacted strongly to the revelations, pledging reforms.
"I feel sick to my stomach," he told Sports Illustrated. "There's a problem in the Mavericks organization and we've got to fix it."
It's unclear exactly what happened at the Barrel Room in April 2011. The 50-page police report portrays an alleged victim deeply upset—and Cuban adamant that nothing happened.
The woman, whom WW is not naming because she's the alleged victim of sexual assault, agreed to a brief interview after WW obtained the police report and contacted her. She says she never contacted the media or sought publicity or compensation from Cuban and has put the incident behind her.
"I really left it in the past," she says. "I haven't thought about it for seven years."
Now married and in her mid-30s, the woman works in the medical field and enjoys hiking with her yellow Lab. "I have a wonderful life," she says. "I'm a happy person."
But she's sticking to her story.
"I filed the report because what he did was wrong," she adds. "I stand behind that report 1,000 percent."
Although the DA decided not to press charges, the police report does provide an unusual window into the mind of a man who has talked about running for president and is familiar to audiences worldwide for railing at NBA referees and judging entrepreneurs on the ABC reality show Shark Tank.
Cuban's attorney, Stephen Houze, strongly denies the allegations against Cuban:
"These allegations are thoroughly investigated by the Multnomah County District's Attorney's Office and the Portland Police Bureau," Houze said in a statement. "According to the detailed prosecution decline memo, investigators interviewed the complainant's boyfriend and female friend, as well as employees and patrons of the bar, and other persons with Mr. Cuban and no one observed any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Cuban.
"This incident never happened and her accusations are false."
Cuban was in Portland on Friday, April 22, 2011, for a playoff game the following day between the Mavericks and the Trail Blazers.
On the night of the 22nd, he would later tell a Portland Police Bureau detective, he arrived around midnight at the Barrel Room, an Old Town nightclub known for its dueling piano players and rowdiness. That year, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission cited the bar for a "history of serious and persistent problems."
Cuban initially said he didn't remember anything unusual about his evening.
"We watched the Lakers game [on television] and then we went to that bar," Cuban told Portland Police Detective Brendan McGuire in a June 8, 2011, telephone interview. "And you know, that was pretty much it."
The woman told police she arrived at the Barrel Room at about 11:30 pm with her boyfriend and another friend.
The woman's boyfriend recognized Cuban, who was standing under a large tent outside the bar, and suggested the woman get her picture taken with the Mavericks owner, as others were doing. She said she didn't really know who Cuban was and didn't want to wait in line for a photo.
But around 2 am, the woman said, she and her friend went to pay their tab and encountered Cuban, who was standing by himself.
"It was apparent he was very drunk," the woman's friend later told police. "His eyes were half closed, he was unstable on his feet, and he was slurring his words."
The alleged victim asked Cuban to pose for a picture.
She told police that Cuban initially placed his right hand on her lower back.
"He then moved his hand down until it was on her buttocks," according to McGuire's summary of the alleged victim's statement. "Cuban then pushed his hand down the back of her jeans and inside her underwear where he cupped his hand over her groin area and inserted the tip of his finger into her vagina."
Initially, the woman told police, she was conflicted about what to do after the alleged incident.
The woman said her family urged her to report Cuban's behavior. She waited more than a week before contacting police.
When she finally sat down for a full interview with a detective, more than two weeks after the alleged incident, the woman explained her reluctance, saying she hoped the report could remain confidential so there would be no publicity. She told police she did not want to be "labeled 'that girl' and involved in a sex scandal with Mark Cuban."
The woman submitted seven cellphone images to police as evidence. (WW requested copies of the photos with the woman's face obscured to protect her identity. The bureau withheld the photos, citing the personal privacy exemption of the state public records law.)
In one of his reports, Detective McGuire, a 22-year bureau veteran, described two of the photos as "significant."
"In both images, Cuban's right shoulder is lowered and he appears to be stretching to reach his arm down," McGuire's report says. "In one of the pictures, his arm can be seen behind [the alleged victim] and it appears Cuban is reaching down toward her buttocks."
McGuire also noted the alleged victim's expression: "Her teeth are clenched, eyes wider than the other pictures and brow raised showing a look of surprise and strain."
After the woman told McGuire her account of the evening, the detective interviewed the two people who'd been with her at the Barrel Room.
The woman's female friend said the alleged victim grabbed her by the wrist right after the incident, according to the police report, and led her outside. There, she told her friend what had happened. The alleged victim was "disturbed and angry," the friend told police.
The woman's boyfriend was "intoxicated and incensed when she told him of the incident," the police report says. "He wanted to go back into the club and confront Cuban."
But the alleged victim thought that since her boyfriend was drunk, allowing him back inside would only make matters worse. They left in a taxi.
Police also interviewed bartenders and security guards at the Barrel Room but none of them said they'd seen anything.
Then it was time to approach Cuban.
It's unclear from the police report whether Cuban knew McGuire would be calling. But an 18-page transcript shows that rather than summoning a lawyer, the Mavericks owner engaged the detective in a lengthy, free-flowing conversation.
Cuban responded to McGuire's questions with a firm denial that mixed shock, disbelief and self-pity.
"If she told five friends right there and then, then that's what they're gonna tell the judge and I'm gonna be fucked," Cuban said. "Oh my God, I don't know what to do."
Cuban gave McGuire the names of two people who'd been with him at the Barrel Room: Lindsay McCormick, a television reporter who had worked for the Blazers, and Kevin Love, the NBA star who'd grown up in Lake Oswego and then played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"There was tons of people around," Cuban told McGuire. "I kept on…chest bumping Kevin Love."
The detective subsequently contacted both McCormick and Love. Neither recalled seeing or hearing anything.
As McGuire continued his investigation, Cuban hired Stephen Houze, a top Portland criminal defense lawyer. Houze went to extraordinary lengths.
Records show that three days after Detective McGuire called Cuban, Houze ordered a polygraph test conducted by former Miami Police Detective Sgt. Warren Holmes, a lie-detector expert. The test results supported Cuban's denial.
A week after the interview, two urologists on the faculty of the George Washington University Medical School in Washington, D.C., provided Houze a written opinion that Cuban could not physically have committed the crime of which he was accused.
"[Cuban] is a large male with large hands, making penetration without lubrication of the woman in the standing position virtually impossible," the doctors wrote.
Doug Harcleroad, who served as Lane County district attorney for 25 years, says neither piece of information necessarily means much. Polygraph results have never been admissible in Oregon courts, he says, and medical experts' testimony can vary widely depending on who's paying.
"I'm sure you could find another expert who would say the opposite," Harcleroad says.
Meg Garvin, director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Portland, says prosecutors often shy away from prosecuting sex crimes in the absence of physical evidence.
"There's a higher bar than for other types of crimes," Garvin says.
In July, McGuire presented the results of his investigation to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.
"The case detective and the complainant both agree with the conclusion there is no corroborative evidence to support the complainant's allegation," wrote senior deputy DA Don Rees on July 27, 2011.
"Because all leads have been exhausted and there remains a lack of physical or substantial circumstantial evidence," McGuire wrote July 28, 2011, "I recommend the case be suspended."
The nonprofit WW Fund for Investigative Journalism provided support for this story.
Grilling Cuban: The transcript of a Portland Police detective's interview with Mark Cuban.
When Portland Police Detective Brendan McGuire telephoned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on June 8, 2011, to ask him about an alleged sexual assault, it was no ordinary phone call.
Portland police interview suspects every day, but they rarely tackle someone of Cuban's reach and power.
Cuban, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $3.7 billion, who has 7.7 million Twitter followers and, according to ESPN, is "the [NBA's] most outgoing owner," took McGuire's call directly, rather than referring the detective to his attorney.
"How are you?" McGuire began.
"Um, you tell me," Cuban replied.
The conversation that followed reveals the detective's attempts to pry information from Cuban and the discomfort of the billionaire. McGuire gets Cuban to describe the evening, while initially withholding key information—that there are "significant" cellphone images of Cuban and the alleged victim.
"If what she is alleging were true," McGuire said, "that would be a sex abuse in the second degree, which is a felony."
"Oh my Lord," Cuban said. "Oh my fucking Lord."
June 8, 2011
Mark Cuban: This is Mark.
Brendan McGuire: This is Mark Cuban? Good afternoon. This is Detective McGuire with the Portland police.
Cuban: Hi, Detective McGuire. How are you?
McGuire: I'm good. How are you?
Cuban: Um, you tell me. [laughs]
McGuire: Were you ever at a nightclub or bar that had like a tent set up out in…?
Cuban: Why? What's the situation?
McGuire: Well, there's a gal who is alleging that you did some inappropriate touching while at that club.
Cuban: Are you serious?
McGuire: Unfortunately, yeah.
Cuban: I mean the bar was packed. There were people around us the whole time. How could I inappropriately touch anybody?
McGuire: Well, that's the allegation. I take it…
Cuban: There were people taking pictures left and right.
McGuire: Do you have any recollection of any of those particular instances taking pictures with anybody?
Cuban: No. I mean, I take pictures all night long. Look, there was a bunch of, there were multiple athletes there. There were a bunch of players there.
McGuire: Who else was there?
Cuban: Um, Kevin Love, there were a bunch of people there, and I don't want to put out names. I mean, there were a lot of people there.
Cuban: Look, I'm, I'm, I'm not gonna sit here, I, how did she say I touched her? Look, people, people hug me. People grab me. People grab onto me all the time.
Cuban: And it wouldn't shock me if, you know, I like put my arm around somebody or, I mean, but I inappropriately touched? Like in what manner?
McGuire: Well, I'll tell you what the allegation is. And, of course, keep in mind, Mr. Cuban, that I'm not sitting here talking to you, accusing you of anything.
Cuban: No, I understand that. You're just doing your job. I understand that.
McGuire: Right. The allegation is that she came up to you to get some pictures taken and while sort of doing [an] arm around each other picture-taking thing, you stuck your hand down the back of her pants and inserted your finger into her vagina.
Cuban: Oh! Hell no! You don't think a hundred people would've noticed?
McGuire: Entirely possible. But I suppose it's entirely possible, depending on how crowded it was and how many people were around, that no one would notice…
Cuban: How would I get, I mean, she wouldn't say something right there and then and smack the shit out of me? And while we're…oh hell no. [laughs] Are you kidding me?
Cuban: I mean, how do I deal with something like this? If someone just makes an accusation like this?
McGuire: Um, well, pretty much my preference, of course, how to deal with it would be to talk to me just like you're doing.
Cuban: So how do I deal with something like this? I mean, why would she wait a mon—I mean, why wouldn't people, why wouldn't she just react right there? You know? I mean, and, and have her boyfriend or whatever beat the shit out of me if I did something stupid like that. You know?
McGuire: I think there's a possibility that just you and your situation can, could be intimidating to some folks.
Cuban: [laughs] OK, well, you know what I'm saying, though, right? There would be some reaction. You know? I mean, I just, I don't know what…aw fuck. I don't know what to say.
McGuire: Well, I think you pretty much said it. You're categorically denying any of this ever happened. Am I understanding that correctly?
Cuban: Yeah. That's correct.
McGuire: Do you know how much you had to drink that night?
Cuban: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't sloshed but I wasn't sober either.
Cuban: But, I mean, but I remember the night. It's not like I don't remember anything.
McGuire: So, but there's not, it's not a situation where you could've done something that you aren't aware of?
Cuban: I can't imagine. Not like that, 'cause that's not my nature. No way, and if I was drunk, I wouldn't have been, you know, had the ambidexterity or whatever you call it to do it. [laughs] I don't even know how you'd pull that off in the first place. You know?
Cuban: Oh my God, this is just [going to] kill me if she does something. I mean, I just, there would've been all these people around. There was tons of people around. I kept on not even head butting but chest bumping Kevin Love right there. There's tons of people, all those bartenders right there were talking to me the whole time. I was not alone at all with anybody.
McGuire: Did Kevin Love leave with you?
Cuban: Yeah, 'cause we all went on, I mean, we all went on this bus.
Cuban: And there was another lady there, Lindsey McCormick. That's who brought us there. She's a Blazer reporter.
Cuban: I put my finger in her vagina?! Are you kidding me?
McGuire: Is there anyone that you can think of that may have been around you that I should talk to who…
Cuban: What are they gonna say? I mean, no, I mean, I can bring you…oh man! Did she do this to try to get money?
McGuire: At this point, I don't think so. But then again, I don't know.
Cuban: I mean, how do you defend against something like that?
McGuire: I have seven cellphone pictures.
Cuban: And where are my hands in here? There were probably on her shoulder, right?
McGuire: Well, there are two pictures. I will tell that you can't see your hands in any of them. Frankly, the cellphone picture quality is not good enough to do that. There are two pictures that do appear to have your shoulder dipping and your arm sort of, if you follow the direction of it, down below her waist.
Cuban: Are you kidding me?
Cuban: 'Cause I always make a point to show my ring finger whenever I take pictures with girls. My left hand.
McGuire: Well, anyway, back to where this usually would go is, I would talk to everyone, gather as much evidence as we can, and like I said, at this point, it's just a matter of talking to people. I've got the cellphone pictures and such.
Cuban: But there's no way that anybody is ever going to say or know. It would've happened right then if they would've seen or known something. They would've stood up. I mean, anybody can make this shit up.
McGuire: That is also true. I will certainly concede that. And then once I've conducted as thorough an investigation as I can, our district attorney would look at it and make a decision if they thought there was enough evidence for a prosecution.
Cuban: And what's your gut feel?
McGuire: At this point, I can't tell you that. And I can't really ethically tell you that anyway.
Cuban: Oh that's fine. That's fine. That's fine. That's fine. That's fine. She said I stuck my finger up her crack or crotch?
Cuban: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I'm just gonna be like a pariah no matter what. Oh Lord. Why did this shit happen? Do you have any advice, any suggestions, Detective?
McGuire: I don't. Um, you know my advice for folks in these situations obviously always is, if nothing happened then to be…
Cuban: Right. Nothing happened, but when you're high profile, it doesn't, it's never just about nothing happening.
McGuire: Absolutely. And unfortunately it's not really my place to offer that sort of advice. What my role is to try and get as near to the truth as I can. And…
Cuban: There was no way to prove the truth…Oh Lordy. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.
McGuire: Do you have any, well, any questions that I can answer at this point?
Cuban: I don't know. I don't know what to answer. I mean, I mean, OK, it's like, "Oh he just did it one time, only one time. Just happened to be this girl." There's no way to know one way or the other.
Cuban: I get people pulling my head, you know, "I want to tell you something," and they wrap their arms around me and…you know, grab my cro—whatever. Just people just, you know, I mean, it's gonna happen all the time, but just over the course of time, people just do weird stuff.
McGuire: Sure, sure. Nothing that particularly stands out from that night, though?
Cuban: And what is the law? What are the consequences on that?
McGuire: Well, if what she is alleging were true, then under Oregon law, let's see, that would be a sex abuse in the second degree, which is a felony. It's the lowest-level felony there is, but it is a felony. And basically, the legal definition of that is penetration without someone's consent but not any force or threats or anything like that.
McGuire: And then as far as the consequences, I mean, that obviously that's way down the road, possibly farther than we could even look. It's all kind of things could happen.
Cuban: Oh my Lord. Oh my fucking Lord. Oh, that's what you get for being nice.
Cuban: I mean, wouldn't she have said something to somebody?
McGuire: Well, according to her, she did. According to her, she immediately told her friends she was with, her boyfriend, and then basically that started a whole several-day argument as to what they should do about it. Before they actually decided to talk to us.
Cuban: There's just no way. There's just no way. Just no way. If she told five friends right there and then, then that's what they're gonna tell the judge and I'm gonna be fucked. Oh my God. [sighs] I don't know what to do.
McGuire: Well, unfortunately, I can't help you with that.
Cuban: Fuck me! I'm so fucked.
McGuire: My plan is to be getting back in touch with you within a week. So probably early next week. And at any point, you have my number and my email. You can…
McGuire: …get in touch with me.
Cuban: I'm just fucked.
McGuire: So, and then at that point, if you are interested in sitting down and chatting, we can arrange…
Cuban: I'm happy to do whatever it takes. I just, how can I prove a negative?
McGuire: Right. Right. So OK, well, thank you for your time, Mr. Cuban.
Cuban: I appreciate it.