Attorney Gloria Allred on Monday called Donald Sterling's mea culpa in an exclusive interview with CNN a "non-apology apology," citing a years-long string of race-related lawsuits and alleged discrimination filed against the Los Angeles Clippers owner.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Kandynce Jones was a defendant in a discrimination case filed against Donald Sterling.
The news conference came on the same day that Sterling's exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper was set to air in full. In excerpts of the interview, Sterling said he was "a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness."
He added: "I'm not a racist. I made a terrible mistake."
Sterling's CNN interview came two weeks after a recording was released to TMZ in which the billionaire tells a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to associate with black people, including Magic Johnson.
The NBA responded to the recordings by fining Donald Sterling $2.5 million and banning him for life. The league's commissioner also said he would seek to force Sterling to sell the team.
Allred said that as NBA ownership groups mull over that action, she wanted to shed renewed light on the discrimination lawsuit so that it could be a factor in their decision-making process.
"What he said should not be viewed in isolation," she said. "What he allowed to happen to the mother of Ebony Jones was not a mistake. It was an outrage and this must also be considered by the NBA."
Kandynce Jones was part of a case that alleged discrimination against African Americans, Latinos and others at apartment buildings he owned in Los Angeles County. She died in 2003, but Allred was joined by Jones' daughter, Ebony, who called her mother an "inspiration and civil rights hero" for standing up to Sterling.
"It is important for people to know what happened 11 years ago," Ebony Jones said.
She described the horrendous conditions she and her mother was forced to live in at times.
"My mother and I were literally forced to dispose of her own feces by hand," Jones said. "When the elevator in the front of my mother's apartment also went out, Mr. Sterling still did nothing, forcing my half-paralyzed mother to climb stairs at her own risk."
Her mother and other former tenants alleged property managers used racial slurs against them and didn’t follow through on the terms of their lease agreements.
In the 2003 lawsuit filed by the Housing Rights Center, Kandynce Jones and 18 other tenants accused Sterling of once stating his preference not to rent to Latinos because “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building.” The lawsuit also accused him of saying “black tenants smell and attract vermin.”
The settlement in that case was confidential, although Sterling paid almost $5 million in attorney's fees to the plaintiffs, according to federal court records.
In 2009, Sterling also agreed to settle another discrimination lawsuit for $2.765 million. That lawsuit alleged discrimination against African Americans, Latinos and others at apartment buildings he owned in Los Angeles County.
Allred also took issue with Sterling's suggestion in the CNN interview that he was "baited" into saying what he said by Stiviano.
"When I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I can say words like that.... I don't know why the girl had me say those things," he told Cooper. "I was baited ... I mean, that's not the way I talk."
Sterling also said he was distraught over the scandal, telling Cooper: "The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."
Allred, however, said his comments were "self-serving" and an attempt at gaining public sympathy.
"Sterling needs to stop avoiding and evading responsibility and making ridiculous self-serving and pathetic excuses for what he said," Allred said. "His statement cannot be justified and his attempts to obtain public sympathy by pointing the finger elsewhere do him no good. The 'devil made me do it' defense just won't work."
Also airing Monday was an interview Sterling's wife, Shelly, gave to Barbara Walters, in which she suggests dementia may have played a role.
In the ABC interview, Shelly Sterling suggested Donald is suffering from dementia, which she said could explain comments caught on tape.
"I was shocked by what he said," she told Walters. "But I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times