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Garden Settles a Lawsuit Filed by a Former Rangers Cheerleader

The New York Times - Richard Sandomir

Rather than defend itself against sexual harassment again, Madison Square Garden on Wednesday settled a lawsuit filed three years ago by the former captain of the Rangers' cheerleading squad, the Rangers City Skaters.

The settlement came 16 days after the Garden agreed to pay a former Knicks executive $11.5 million in damages. In that case, a jury found that Coach Isiah Thomas had verbally abused and sexually harassed her.

No details of the settlement were provided by the Garden or the former cheerleading captain, Courtney Prince, who sued the Garden and two Rangers employees in October 2004. She accused the Garden of sexual harassment and of retaliation, because it fired her and tried to smear her reputation.

The Garden and Prince’s lawyer, Kathleen Peratis, issued nearly identical statements. "We resolved this matter with no admission of wrongdoing on any part," each said while offering no further comment.

The settlement kept what could have been potentially lurid testimony from being heard in court or disseminated online and on television. Some of the Garden’s worst moments in the Thomas-Anucha Browne Sanders trial occurred when parts of video depositions by Thomas and James L. Dolan, the chairman of the Garden, were played for the jury.

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Thomas has continued to deny the accusations made by Browne Sanders.

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The accusations by Prince were potentially more lurid than those made by Browne Sanders, although the personalities involved were all lower-profile than Thomas.

Prince said managers at the Garden told her which skaters they liked and which ones they wanted to attend postgame parties. She accused her supervisor, Ryan Halkatt, of telling her which skaters had to lose weight or "stuff their bras" to appear more alluring.

She claimed that at a bar in Greenwich Village after a Rangers game in December 2003, Jason Vogel, a public relations manager for the team, and another man who is not a defendant, asked her to join them for a threesome in the bar’s bathroom.

She said that she told the other skaters about the incident, which led the Garden to fire her and to interview her colleagues, which yielded a dossier about her use of graphic sexual language.

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