What Exactly Did The Blazers Investigate?
3:13 PM EDT on July 16, 2021
It's been more than two weeks since the Portland Trail Blazers announced Chauncey Billups as the team's new head coach. At the press conference announcing his arrival, Blazers GM Neil Olshey assured reporters that the team had completed a thorough investigation into allegations of sexual assault that were made against Billups by a woman in 1997. That woman sued Billups and several other men, including former Celtics Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer, in civil court under the name Jane Doe. Her allegations never led to criminal charges, and the suit was eventually settled following a years-long legal battle. According to Olshey, the independent investigators hired by the team "corroborated Chauncey’s recollection of the events that nothing non-consensual happened."
But what exactly was the nature of that investigation? When he was pressed to answer that question during the introductory press conference, Olshey deflected, telling a reporter that such information was "proprietary." Olshey also said, “You’re just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that ran an investigation that gave us the results we’ve already discussed.” Olshey might have had good reason for not wanting to get into any specifics about the team's investigation.
On same day of the press conference, The Athletic reported that the Blazers had hired a "former FBI investigator" to retrace the original case. That effort reportedly involved re-interviewing witnesses and watching tapes of old interviews related to the case. But earlier this week, Oregon Public Broadcasting published a story that attempted to figure out what specific steps were taken by the Blazers' investigator. OPB was able to determine, through Jane Doe's former lawyer, that the team never bothered reaching out to Doe. They also revealed some information about who exactly the Blazers hired, and how hard that person worked to obtain information related to the case:
The police department in Waltham, Massachusetts, the Boston suburb where the alleged rape occurred, said it had received just one recent inquiry regarding Billups. That request came from Dave Hallman, who runs the Oregon-based security firm Alder Group.
Massachusetts law prohibits police from releasing any information about reports of sexual assault or domestic violence, meaning any tapes or police reports would have been difficult for an independent investigator to procure.
The Waltham Police Department said it received Hallman’s request for information about Billups on June 24.
“No information was released by our department,” Capt. Steven R. Champeon of the Waltham Police Department said via email.
News of Billups’ hiring broke the next day.OPB.org
When our own Diana Moskovitz obtained copies of more than 200 documents from the civil suit that was filed by Doe, she specifically asked the Blazers if the team's investigator had also attempted to obtain these documents. The team didn't respond until after the publication of her story about lawsuit, and all vice president of basketball communications Jim Taylor had to say was, “We do not have anything additional to share.”
There have also been some, uh, interesting facts surfaced in recent days about Dave Hallman, the guy who runs the security firm that the Blazers seem to have entrusted their independent investigation with. Yesterday, Willamette Week reported on the contents of Hallman's now-locked Twitter account, which recently featured pornographic GIFs, skepticism of transgender rights, and pro-cop propaganda. After being made aware of these posts, the Blazers told Willamette Week that the team would no longer be using Hallman's services in the future:
When WW asked the Trail Blazers today about the pornographic images, franchise spokesperson Ashley Clinkscale told WW that the organization is now aware of the posts and will no longer be using Hallman’s services. She did not say whether Hallman was the primary investigator for the Billups inquiry.
“Though the Trail Blazers have used the Adler Group for the past 11 years, we were recently made aware of inappropriate content on the personal twitter page of the principal of the Adler Group. The content of the Twitter page is completely unacceptable and is counter to what we stand for as an organization. As a result, we will no longer be using their services,” Clinkscale tells WW.Williamette Week
Thanks to the Blazers' steadfast refusal to answer any questions about what exactly their investigation into the 1997 allegations entailed, we will probably never know who they did or did not talk to, and what sorts of documents they did or did not obtain—though we do know the investigation didn't take longer than a few days. But that's the point. Companies like the Adler Group exist so that teams can throw some money at former cops and feds like Dave Hallman—who can then stop looking at porn on Twitter for long enough to make a couple phone calls—and then tell everyone that a "thorough investigation was completed," so that we can all get back to our lives.