Brett Favre Sexual Harassment Suit the 'Tip of the Iceberg'?

Lawyer for massage therapists filing suit calls quarterback "arrogant."

January 04, 2011, 9:16 AM

Jan. 4. 2010—, 2011 -- The attorney for two female massage therapists who have leveled sexual harassment charges against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre called the lawsuit "the tip of the iceberg."

"It's clear that there's no change happening at the Jets. It's not right and it happens to be illegal," Elizabeth Eilender, the attorney for former New York Jets' massage therapists Christine Scavo and Shannon O'Toole, told "Good Morning America."

In the wake of a sex scandal that tarnished Favre's storied 20-year NFL career and cost him a a $50,000 fine, Scavo and O'Toole filed suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York Monday against Favre, the New York Jets and Lisa Ripi, a woman who hires massage therapists for the team.

In the suit, Scavo alleges that Favre sent text messages to another unidentified massage therapist, asking Scavo and the unidentified woman to "get together" with Favre.

Scavo said that in 2008 while Favre was with the New York Jets, he treated her like a "hanging slab of meat." In the suit she claims he wanted a three-way with her and another therapist.

Favre allegedly texted the unidentified therapist, writing, "Brett here, you and Crissy want to get together, I'm all alone," according to the lawsuit.

Favre allegedly sent another text message reading, "Kinda lonely tonight, I guess I have bad intentions."

Scavo claimed that after she refused Favre's advances and had her husband, Joseph Scavo, call Favre to demand an apology, both Scavo and the other plaintiff, Shannon O'Toole, were never offered work with the Jets again.

Scavo's husband said he confronted the quarterback to stop soliciting his wife and asked for an apology, but Favre "responded in an inappropriate manner and refused," according to the lawsuit.

"[Favre] was propositioning my client and another massage therapist repeatedly," Eilender said. "One of my clients showed the text messages to her husband, Mr. Scavo, he contacted Brett Favre who was inappropriate. He was very arrogant, used some choice language."

Joseph Scavo claimed that his wife then came under fire from her boss, Lisa Ripi, a defendant in the lawsuit. The suit alleges that Ripi wrote "for sure feel horrible that u had to go thru that [with] a pervert ... however I truly wish you would've come forward at the time it happened."

Ripi goes on to say, "I've been up there 13 years without anything that happened to me on tmz ... cause it was handled internally the way it should be," according to the lawsuit.

Favre Didn't Cooperate With NFL Investigators

Eilender said that her clients did not want to file a lawsuit, but when the Jets refused to give them back their jobs, they had no choice.

The suit alleges that the Jets' locker room and training camp are "a hotbed of sexual harassment, sexism and inappropriate behavior."

"What they try to do is circle the wagons and try to handle these things internally so it's not out there in the media under more careful scrutiny," Eilender said. "It's a pervasive culture in the NFL. Enough is enough."

The lawsuit is highly critical of the NFL's investigation into Favre, but the two women say they chose not to personally participate because they felt the investigation was a sham.

On Tuesday, Gary Glaser, an attorney for the Jets, issued a statement rejecting the claims made in the lawsuit.

"Unfortunately, the plaintiffs never reported the allegations to the Jets, either during or after the conclusion of their work," Glaser said. "The case against the Jets is completely without merit, and we look forward to defending the matter in court, where we are confident that the Jets will prevail."

The National Football League, and Ripi, the therapists' supervisor named in the suit all had no comment. Requests for comment from Brett Favre's agent and the Minnesota Vikings were not immediately returned Monday.

Favre was under investigation by the NFL from October of 2010 until late December of last year after the website Deadspin first posted voicemails allegedly from Favre to Jenn Sterger, a former game day reporter for the New York Jets. The voicemails and pictures were allegedly sent to Sterger in 2008 when both were working for the Jets.

In the voicemails, Favre is heard inviting Sterger to his hotel. Favre has admitted to leaving the voicemails but not to sending inappropriate pictures of himself.

The NFL concluded its investigation Dec. 29, 2010 by fining Favre $50,000. The fine drew the ire of some critics who said the punishment wasn't harsh enough. Favre reportedly makes $50,000 in just five minutes of game time. His base salary is $11.6 million.

The league said that Commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the NFL's personal conduct policy given the evidence available to him.

Officials from the league said that forensic evidence gathered during the nearly three-month investigation did not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger.

"This has been a messy story from the get-go ... and it's a messy ending to the story. I don't know if anybody is happy with it except maybe Brett Favre, who has gotten away ... with a slap on the wrist," ABC News sports contributor Christine Brennan said on "Good Morning America" when the fine was announced.

The fine was intended to reprimand Favre for not being "candid in several respects during the investigation, resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention," the league said.

"Brett Favre not cooperating, that's significant, that's not just a little laugh-it-off kind of thing," Brennan said. "Why didn't Roger Goodell, who is a get-tough commissioner, why didn't he suspend Brett Favre for the presumably final game of his career [and] send a big statement to NFL players that this is unacceptable?"

The NFL said it had reviewed media reports that Favre had made passes at two massage therapists who worked for the New York Jets, but that "people with relevant information" refused to be interviewed. It appears those people have now come forward with the lawsuit.

The Jets as a team have also been in hot water for allegedly cat calling Ines Sainz, a Mexican sideline reporter for TV Azteca, in September of 2010.

Sainz called the Jets' locker room an "uncomfortable" environment for a woman.

Meanwhile, Favre, who was sidelined in the Minnesota Vikings' final game of the season on Sunday because of an injury, said that he is retiring from the field for good. He's retired twice before but then returned to play again.

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