Hall of Famer Warren Moon spoke with KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Thursday in his first interview since he was sued for sexual harassment Dec. 4.
During the interview, Moon acknowledged that he had shared a hotel room and bed with his accuser, but denied having sexually harassed her.
“I know this subject of harassment and assault and different things in the workplace by women is a very serious subject right now,” Moon said to start his conversation with Dori, “and a lot of women have held a lot of these feelings in for a long time, and are coming out and expressing these feelings, and they should be applauded for that. And I applaud those women for doing that. But in this particular situation, in my case, it just doesn’t apply.”
Moon, says he met Wendy Haskell, the woman filing the lawsuit, two years ago during a fundraiser.
“Our relationship kind of escalated over the last year or so and became more of just a friendship; we basically became like really close companions,” Moon said, adding that at no point in their relationship had the two had a sexual encounter. “But we have been very, very close; we’ve shared a lot of things, we’ve talked a lot, we’ve been a lot of different places together, we’ve traveled together, we’ve done a lot of different things. So that’s one thing that people don’t know: that there was a pre-existing relationship before she ever started working for me.”
According to The Washington Post, Haskell (who was hired as Moon’s assistant in July) alleges that Moon, 61, grabbed her crotch during a trip to Seattle earlier this year and slipped a drug into her drink on a separate trip. She also alleges she was required to stay in Moon’s hotel room during business trips.
Moon denies many of the statements, including the allegation that he drugged Haskell.
“All of that is totally untrue,” Moon said, “and I have witnesses that would testify to that, that were present or knew the situation. So no truth to that at all.”
However, he does acknowledge that he and Haskell had shared a hotel room on previous occasions — which included sharing a bed.
“At times we did share rooms together, and at other times we didn’t. It just depended on the situation of where we were. Sometimes she was with other girlfriends and she stayed with them, or sometimes she just met me on her own.”
When questioned by Dori whether he felt sharing a hotel room with his then-assistant was inappropriate, Moon said he felt as though it was not out of the norm.
“To me, it’s not, only because of my history with women in general,” Moon said. “I’ve done this with many other women, I’ve been able to if the situation arises that they needed somewhere to stay or whatever, they would stay with me. And they knew that there wasn’t going to be any threat because of the respect that they have for me. So I can get a big number of women that would come forward and tell you those same things, that every time they were around me, they’d never feel any type of threat from me and they feel very comfortable around me, and it was no different with her.”
He later added that, in hindsight, it was “probably not the smartest thing to do, to share a room with somebody.”
“But again, that’s how our relationship started and we just kind of continued it that same way. And she never complained about it or said she wanted to do anything differently. So I just went along with it whenever it was presented. It wasn’t like it was planned every time to be that way, it just kind of happened sometimes that way.”
Moon added that while the two had previously shared a hotel room and met out for dinners, the relationship had always been a platonic one.
“It never became (romantic) because neither of us sought that,” Moon said. “We both had come out of long-term relationships. She was actually dating some different guys in her life, and I was very aware of that and I had no problem with that, there was a big age difference between us so where she wanted to go in her life as far as maybe being married one day maybe having kids, that’s not where I was going in my life, but we had a connection with one another as far as just enjoying each others company. She was really into sports, she understood sports, she wanted to be involved in sports. Her trade is, she’s a physical therapist, and she was living in New York at the time when I met her in Hawaii at one of my fundraising events during the Pro Bowl; that’s when I first met her about two years ago, and our relationship just kind of escalated from there.”
Haskell says she was demoted by Sports 1 Marketing after complaining of the alleged sexual harassment.
Moon’s attorney, Dan Fears, previously told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that Moon was “quite shocked” by the allegations.
“These are untrue. Warren is an amazingly principled guy and wants to be heard on these. He views these as allegations that are just wrong and false. He did not sexually harass Wendy Haskell,” he said.
Fears pointed out that Haskell had a friend-based relationship with Moon before she worked for him.
“Ultimately, Warren will be able to respond to all the specific allegations and there are people who know the true story, not just Warren, but there are other people who know the whole situation and know that Ms. Haskell was not sexually harassed.”
Moon played football for the University of Washington before playing six years in the Canadian Football League. He then played in the NFL for 17 seasons, which included time with the Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks, and Chiefs. He was the recipient of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1989.
In 1995, Moon was sued by a cheerleader who accused him of sexual harassment. He settled out of court.
He was arrested and charged with assault after allegedly hitting his wife at the time, just two months after the allegations of harassment in 1995. He was acquitted when his wife testified that she “provoked” the fight.
Moon retired from the NFL in 2001.