Probe finds emotional abuse, sexual misconduct in NWSL were systemic
The investigation, known as the “Cinderella Project,” took a year after the initial inquiry to be concluded. (Courtesy of the Seattle Reign)
SEATTLE — “I was an emotional wreck,” says the head coach of the Washington Spirit, who had to deal with a lawsuit after the team failed to retain former player Lindsay Scott, allegedly due to an accusation of emotional abuse.
In a 2016 email to the Spirit’s then-owners, former owner Robert Kraft wrote, “Lindsay is a strong athlete but she needs to learn how to deal with conflict.”
In another email, Kraft added, “She needs to learn how to handle criticism and how to get over setbacks in life.”
Scott says she received those emails, but she wasn’t sure whether they were related to her situation, which began when she was a 16-year-old rookie with the Spirit in 2015. Her claims against Kraft and the Spirit were eventually settled in October 2016, but as the story gained new life in 2017, Kraft and the club decided to file a lawsuit. The suit was dismissed in April 2017 as a result of an alleged inability to get a fair trial. But the case reemerged in March that year with the filing of a complaint about alleged sexual harassment by players and the lack of accountability on the part of the club.
“In the spring it was all about Lindsay. This was the big news of the season,” said Kelli Williams, who played for the Spirit from 1995 to 1998 and was in the team’s locker room during the season. She said Kraft and other former players approached the team owner about Scott. She says the owner approached Scott about a lawsuit.
“I’m not sure if [Kraft] believed her,” Williams said. “Lindsay was kind of a sore spot with the owner and the fans. And they wanted her out of the team. I