Seattle Seahawk owner Ken Behring was accused of sexual assault and battery in a civil lawsuit filed in Contra Costa Superior Court on Monday.
The complaint stated that Patricia Parker, who worked in Behring’s Blackhawk, Calif., offices and managed his finances, faced more than two years of sexual innuendo and verbal sexual harassment before Behring allegedly assaulted her in January.
In a prepared statement, Behring, who has expressed a desire to move his team to the Southland, denied the allegations and called the claims “a thinly-veiled attempt at extortion.”
In the court document Parker filed, she describes an office atmosphere where “sex is a quid pro quo for employment” and where she was required to hide Behring’s sexual liaisons from his wife by changing “soiled linens” and arranging phony hunting trips for Behring and his friends.
This year, the complaint says Behring asked for a New Year’s Day hug and then “inserted his tongue in the plaintiff’s mouth,” “fondled the plaintiff’s breasts” and “ground his pelvis into her hip.”
Parker was hired as an executive assistant in October 1993 and rose to chief financial officer, where she oversaw Behring’s multi-million dollar investment portfolio, Parker’s attorney Jeffrey Lipow said.
Parker, who resigned March 1, also charges that Behring regularly hired women to submit to his sexual whims. The complaint states that Behring has been sued three times for similar behavior.
“This guy prides himself on being a great hunter and travels the world hunting and killing animals,” Lipow said. “I think he believes he has a hunting license for women that he fancies.”
Lipow said that while the Blackhawk offices provided a hostile environment, Parker did not quit or file a complaint earlier because she valued the high-paying job that was also high-responsibility and high-profile.
“Sometimes you close your eyes and do what you gotta do to pursue your career,” Lipow said. “This was an opportunity for her, probably a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity.”
In Parker’s complaint, she says she suffered loss of income and benefits and needed medical treatment. She is seeking general and punitive damages.