Published February 05, 2010
MIAMI (AP) — A woman claims in a lawsuit filed only days before the Super Bowl that former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin sexually assaulted her at a South Florida hotel, an allegation labeled a false attempt at "civil extortion" Friday by Irvin's attorney.
The woman filed the lawsuit Thursday in Broward County Circuit Court seeking unspecified damages for the assault that allegedly occurred July 4 or 5, 2007, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
The incident was reported to Seminole tribal police on July 20, 2007, but the woman later signed a waiver of prosecution, Seminole tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said.
"I think she just wanted to put this behind her," Bitner said. The case was referred to state prosecutors.
Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for the Broward State Attorney's office, said the matter remains under investigation but no charges have been filed. Because the woman waited more than two weeks to report the incident, there was no physical evidence or hotel surveillance video, Bitner said.
Irvin, 43, is a member of the pro football Hall of Fame who starred at wide receiver for the Cowboys from 1988 to 1999. The Fort Lauderdale native was also a star in college for the University of Miami, playing on the Hurricanes' 1987 national championship team.
Irvin is now an analyst for the NFL Network and will be on the air this weekend as part of Super Bowl coverage, NFL Network spokesman Dennis Johnson said in an e-mail. He said the NFL security department is looking into the allegations.
Until Friday, Irvin also hosted a radio show in the Dallas-Fort Worth market on ESPN. That contract was terminated Friday, although the network said the decision was made before the lawsuit surfaced.
"His contract was up and the show has not performed," ESPN said in a statement on its Web site. "We had previously decided to cancel the show and decided this morning to make it effective today."
Irvin's attorney, Larry Friedman of Dallas, said he was approached by the woman's lawyer shortly before Irvin was to appear on last season's "Dancing With The Stars" competition.
The offer, according to Friedman: Irvin must pay the woman $1 million or a lawsuit would be filed to coincide with the Super Bowl, which is being played Sunday in Miami.
"I call it civil extortion: pay us or we'll ruin your life," Friedman said. "Nothing happened. There was no encounter between this Jane Doe and Michael Irvin. The entire story is false, it's bogus, it's made up."
Later in the day Friday, Friedman filed a countersuit against the woman claiming, among other things, civil extortion and defamation. The Associated Press typically does not name alleged sexual assault victims.
The woman's Florida attorney did not immediately respond Friday to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a Super Bowl news conference Friday, said he was not initially aware of the assault allegation.
"We'll obviously take it seriously, make sure we understand the facts and then take the appropriate steps," Goodell said.
According to the lawsuit, the woman claims Irvin got her drunk and took her to his hotel room where he and another, unidentified man insisted on sexual favors. The woman claims Irvin raped her and the other man forced her to perform oral sex.
Irvin has had previous brushes with the law, including a no-contest plea to a cocaine possession charge in 1996. Later that year, Irvin and another Cowboys player were accused of sexual assault by a woman, but an investigation found the story was false and the woman recanted.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., contributed to this report.