LOS ANGELES — A judge on Thursday ordered lawyers handling a rape lawsuit against Knicks guard Derrick Rose to temporarily stop talking to reporters, faulting attorneys for actions that have raised pretrial publicity about one of the NBA’s stars.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald said Thursday he was inclined to issue a longer gag order in light of pretrial publicity about the case, which has included interviews with Rose’s accuser and her attorneys allowing a letter confirming a police investigation of her rape allegations to become public.
Fitzgerald told the woman’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, that his team’s filing of the letter in the public court docket was “borderline unethical.” He also said legal filings from Rose’s attorney, Mark Baute, were tailored for the press and not to secure favorable rulings for Rose.
Rose is being sued by a 30-year-old woman who accuses him and two of his friends of gang raping her in her apartment in 2013. The woman, identified in court filings only as Jane Doe, dated Rose for two years before the alleged rape.
Rose and his friends contend they had consensual sex with the woman, who has said she was unconscious after a night of drinking.
She is seeking millions from Rose, who is beginning his first year with the Knicks after playing seven seasons for his hometown Chicago Bulls.
Fitzgerald accused the woman’s attorneys of using the press to put pressure on the Knicks and team President Phil Jackson, Rose’s sponsors and force the guard to settle the case. “It’s perfectly obvious,” he said.
The judge said he was issuing the gag order after taking the unusual step of reviewing news stories written about the case in recent weeks. Earlier this month, The Associated Press published a story after a lengthy interview with the woman, and she subsequently spoke to several other media outlets.
“We don’t care about a settlement in this case,” McCoy said, despite previous statements by his client that she wanted to settle the case before trial so she could preserve her anonymity. He said most of the stories had been in national media outlets and had not tainted the jury.
When Baute told Fitzgerald his ruling was “fantastic,” the judge bristled.
“I’m really fed up with both of you,” Fitzgerald said.