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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Pro athletes should never get a pass on harassment


Kenny Lofton is one of the most beloved players in history of the Cleveland Guardians, née Indians. He spent the best years of 17-year career anchoring center field for the Cleveland teams that won six AL Central titles and earned two World Series berths. 

Post-baseball, Lofton founded Centerblock Asset Management LLC, an investment firm and NFT workplace. In addition to his corporate gig, it also appears that Lofton allegedly spends his time messaging women pictures of his Li'l Kenny on Instagram and firing employees to take issue with it.

Deadspin has the details:
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, a female employee … was tasked with monitoring Lofton's Instagram and direct messages. The suit claims that while performing her job duties, the female employee was often exposed to sexually explicit photos of Lofton, who would allegedly send photos of his genitalia to women on Instagram. As early as February 2022, the complaint says the female employee contacted in-house counsel Mark Lui. 
The lawsuit further alleges that Lofton's alleged inappropriate conduct was then brought to the attention of (plaintiff) Brandyn Toney, Centerblock's creative director, who also brought it to the attention to Lui. Within hours, he was fired.

This is one side of the story. We don't know, for example, whether there were factors other than protected activity that caused Centerblock to terminated Toney. The timing, though, as alleged looks horrible for the company and Lofton, who cannot get a pass on harassment, retaliation, or any other misconduct because he's a famous former pro athlete or because he owns the company. We can't expect to hold anyone accountable unless we hold everyone accountable, including Kenny Lofton.

* Image by Andrew Malone, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons