Gloria Allred: Tiger Woods's True Opponent?

Gloria Allred and alleged mistress Joslyn James keep pressure on Woods.

April 6, 2010 — -- A bevy of women linked to Tiger Woods are watching as he returns to professional golf this week. One of them might peer more closely than the rest.

In the wake of Woods' fall from grace, Gloria Allred emerged as a kind of crusader against the star golfer, representing at least two of his alleged mistresses (nightlife promoter Rachel Uchitel, porn star Joslyn James) and speaking on behalf of other women in Woods' life (his kindergarten teacher, Maureen Decker.)

As he rises back into the public eye, she's revving up her efforts to bring him down.

Monday, following Woods' press conference in Augusta, Ga. ahead of this week's Masters tournament, Allred and James held a press conference of their own in which the porn star called the golfer a "big fat liar." James (real name: Veronica Siwik-Daniels) shot down Woods' public promise to better himself as "big malarky" and noted that "after the birth of his first daughter Sam, he was with me 10 days later."

While James and Allred want an apology from Woods, they won't follow him to the Masters to get it. Allred said her client is moving on with her life, though James is still upset that "he lied to her when he said they would have a life together."

James isn't Allred's only ammo against Woods. Last week, she took a hit at him with the help of Woods' kindergarten teacher, who claims she's suffered with migraine headaches, elevated blood pressure and colitis because he perpetuated a false story that he was the victim of a racially charged attack on his first day of school.

Woods' anecdote about how he "the teacher really didn't do much of anything" after he was tied to a tree and spray-painted appears in Charles Barkley's 2005 book, "Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?" (Woods first recounted the story in a 1997 interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.) Decker, now 69-years-old and retired, claims she doesn't remember the incident happening and said Friday that neither Woods nor his parents complained about such an attack when he was in school.

In a press release, Allred said Woods ought to "retract his statement and apologize to Ms. Decker," adding, "No teacher should ever be treated in such a callous and unfair manner by her pupil, especially a teacher who has been as dedicated to her students as Ms. Decker has been. The time for Tiger Woods to make direct amends to her is now."

Allred's Past With Powerful Men

What does Allred want from Woods? She didn't immediately return's requests for comment, but considering her past, the legal force-to-be-reckoned-with may see him as another prize for her mantel.

"Gloria is one of these attorneys that understands that the court of law is different from the court of public opinion," said Hollywood publicist Michael Levine. "She uses the media as a tool to both stay relevant for herself and stay on the offense for her client."

The 68-year-old, Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based lawyer built her reputation as women's rights advocate, taking high profile men to task. Early in her career, Allred successfully sued the the then all-male Friar's Club in Beverly Hills for its membership discrimination policies (fittingly, Allred held her press conference with James at the Friar's Club in New York.) She went on to target O.J. Simpson, representing Nicole Brown Simpson's family in his murder trial.

In 1997, she represented the actresses Brittany Ashland, who sued Charlie Sheen for assault, and Hunter Tylo, who sued "Melrose Place" producer Aaron Spelling for firing her after she got pregnant.

More recently, Allred represented Amber Frey during Frey's run as a witness in the criminal case against Scott Peterson. She's also behind the (still anonymous) fourth woman to claim to have had an affair with Sandra Bullock's estranged husband, Jesse James.

Allred's allegiance to preyed upon women stems from personal pain. She was raped while on vacation in Mexico in 1966, and an illegal abortion she had after the subsequent pregnancy, almost killed her.

"It's part of who I am," Allred told the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2008. "And because the system didn't work for me, or I didn't think it would, I didn't use it. But that is why I want the system to be there, and to be effective for women. I think that women should understand that it is nothing for them to be ashamed of. They are not the wrongdoer, they are the victim. It needs to come out of the closet so that the stigma is removed."

As her campaign against Woods continues to show, Allred's not about to back down, no matter how powerful the man at hand may be.

"Because of my life experiences, I understand that I have an opportunity to help other women," she told the Los Angeles Business Journal. "I have the desire and the ability."