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Lawsuit: Former massage therapist alleges Sphere chief sexually assaulted her

Updated January 17, 2024 - 9:56 am

A lawsuit filed Tuesday claims Sphere Entertainment CEO James Dolan and former Hollywood film executive Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted a massage therapist a decade ago.

Plaintiff Kellye Croft alleges that Dolan and Weinstein engaged in “sexual assault and forceful touching” against her and seeks compensatory damages and a financial award for her physical and mental pain, according to her attorneys.

Croft claims that Dolan “engaged in trafficking Plaintiff for commercial sex acts” and that his alleged actions, including inappropriately touching her, caused her “injury, severe emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, economic harm, and other consequential damages,” the lawsuit filed in a California court states. Sphere Entertainment owns the Sphere attraction on the Strip.

‘Absolutely no merit’

An attorney for Dolan adamantly refuted the allegations in a prepared statement.

“There is absolutely no merit to any of the allegations against Mr. Dolan,” New York lawyer E. Danya Perry stated. “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. The references to Harvey Weinstein are simply meant to inflame and appear to be plagiarized from prior cases against Mr. Weinstein.”

The lawsuit’s claims “reflect an act of retaliation by an attorney who has brought multiple cases against Mr. Dolan and has not, and cannot, win a judgment against him,” Perry stated. “Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”

The lawsuit says Croft met Dolan in 2013, when he was 58 and she was a 27-year-old licensed massage therapist. He offered her a job as the therapist for the Eagles rock group during their concert tour with Dolan’s band, JD & The Straight Shot, as the opening act.

Allegations of force

In November 2013, Dolan, a financier of the Eagles tour, asked her to massage him twice and during the second session, Dolan “felt emboldened to further flex his power and influence over Ms. Croft” and at one point pulled her toward him and “dragged her to a couch,” the lawsuit claims.

He then forced her hands between his knees and Ms. Croft resisted his advances, adamant that she did not want to have any sexual interactions with Dolan, who was “married and thirty years older than Ms. Croft,” the complaint states.

Dolan was “extremely manipulative” and “pressured Ms. Croft into unwanted sexual intercourse with him,” leaving her “disgusted and terrified” but she submitted, due a feeling of isolation from others, “Dolan’s assertions he would take care of her” and because he held power over the band tour for which she was working, according to the filing.

In January 2014, The Azoff Company, a management company for the Eagles, had her fly to Los Angeles and check into a Beverly Hills hotel, where Dolan’s band was staying, with the intent for her to engage “in unwanted sexual acts with Dolan” instead of as the Eagles’ massage therapist, and again she felt obligated to submit, the complaint states.

While at the hotel, she entered the elevator with a man who turned out to be Weinstein, who told her he and Dolan were best friends and that he had heard good things about Croft, according to the lawsuit.

Weinstein suggested he could help her do massages for actors and actresses on film sets and invited her into his room, where he changed into a bathrobe and asked her to give him a massage on the bed, the lawsuit claims.

When she resisted, Weinstein said that she if she could not handle such requests “you won’t make it in Hollywood,” according to the lawsuit.

When she told him she needed her massage table from her hotel room and tried to escape, Weinstein followed her, placed his foot in the door to stop it and “attempted to assault her” but was interrupted when the phone rang, with Dolan on the line, prompting Weinstein to leave, the lawsuit claims.

Croft alleged that Dolan told her that Weinstein is “a troubled person” who had a lot of “serious issues” and that the film producer’s friends were “trying to get him to address” the issues, the lawsuit states.

Croft was left physically and emotionally ill, feeling “shame and disgust” and “was never the same after her experiences on tour with the Eagles,” according to the filing.

She became unable to perform massages and ended up leaving the business, according to the complaint..

Her lawsuit states that Weinstein is incarcerated at the Mohawk Correction Facility in Rome, New York from his 2020 conviction for sexual misconduct.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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