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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

Crying Foul in Attempt to Referee Rodman

November 18, 1998|MIKE DOWNEY

Lawsuit No. BC 200 588, filed a week ago Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges battery, negligence, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It was filed by a cocktail waitress.

She's a woman who just wants to be able to do her job without feeling some customer's big mitts all over her.

What she also wants is this customer's boss to personally look into her allegations--"and, if you find them to be valid, to take appropriate action."

These are the words her lawyer used last week in writing to the head of the National Basketball Assn. about this man accused of illegal use of the hands, Dennis Rodman.

So far, Commissioner David Stern has not responded to the letter.

His season has been postponed, so maybe that's why.

Or, the complaints about Rodman keep piling up, so maybe that's why.

*

Susan Patterson is the waitress and latest woman--the third in seven months, in fact--to charge that Dennis Rodman couldn't keep his hands off her.

On June 10, 1998, Dixie Johnson alleged that Rodman sexually assaulted her in Las Vegas by grabbing her left breast and shaking it. She filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

On April 19, 1998, Connie Wilcox alleged that Rodman sexually assaulted her in Las Vegas by grabbing her sides near her breasts and lifting her up. She filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

On May 5, 1994, LaVon Ankers alleged that Rodman sexually harassed her in Utah by pinching her buttocks. She filed suit in U.S. District Court in Utah.

There are a number of people in the world who still believe that pinching a woman's buttocks, lifting a woman up or "copping a feel" is funny.

It isn't.

There are a number of people in the world who still believe that Dennis Rodman is a quirky but otherwise harmless individual.

He isn't.

I don't care how many laughs he gets on late night TV shows, Rodman is a sad and pathetic figure who ought to come tattooed with a warning for working women everywhere to beware.

Rodman still hasn't learned the cardinal rule of his own profession, basketball--hands off. This is exactly the way heavyweight champ Mike Tyson often behaved around women--grabbing them in public, uninvited, then giving that "who, me?" look to everybody in the room and pretending it was just a joke.

I can hear Rodman now, playing the fool on some TV talk show and getting a big hand from the studio audience, which ought to boo him instead.

That's why he keeps doing what he's doing--according to these women--because nobody stops him.

When women do file lawsuits--and the line is forming out the door--they are often mocked by people who don't believe such behavior justifies a legal action asking for money.

But what recourse do women in the workplace have if it's true Rodman keeps doing it and getting away with it?

His employers might fine him $50,000 for making derogatory remarks about Mormons, but what are they doing about women's repeated complaints about his serial fondling?

Rodman is such a clown, people laugh at his antics. He is the fool who gets away with everything, on and off a basketball court--the Anti-Jordan who reminds us why Michael is admired all over the world, even by those who can't stand basketball.

Wouldn't it be nice if, say, Oprah Winfrey brought in Rodman before her Chicago studio audience and, rather than happily bantering about a Bulls victory, told him what she thinks of men who manhandle women.

I'd love to see Rodman put his hand on Oprah and then try to say he was just kidding.

She'd throw him off the Sears Tower.

*

Here is the kind of admirable human being Dennis Rodman is: He got married last Saturday, but according to his agent it's because Dennis was drunk.

"It sounds like he was deeply intoxicated," Dwight Manley said after Rodman's marriage to Carmen Electra, a (cough) actress and MTV personality. "Obviously, anyone who would marry somebody that was intoxicated to the point that they couldn't speak or stand had ulterior motives of some sort."

Yeah, right--it's the woman with ulterior motives.

I can see why someone would take Rodman's hand in marriage. At least for a few minutes, you'd know where his hand was.

Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053, or e-mail mike.downey@latimes.com.

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