On Sunday, two days after an audio recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist comments was released online, his wife, Rochelle Sterling, told ESPN she didn’t condone the statements.
“I’m not a racist,” she said. “Never have been, never will be.”
On Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reported on court documents that undercut that assertion.
During a 2009 deposition, a tenant in one of the Sterling’s apartment buildings accused Rochelle Sterling of once calling him a “black m—f—” during a discussion.
“I asked her again, I asked her, ‘would you reduce the rent?’” Darrell Rhodes said in the deposition, according to the Times. “And she said, ‘who do you think you are, you black m—f—.’”
Rhodes sued the Sterlings in federal court in 2007, accusing the couple of discriminatory behavior. His case was ultimately part of a $2.765 million settlement reached in 2009 between the Sterlings, the Justice Department, and other Sterling tenants, according to the Times. As part of the deal, the Sterlings did not admit any wrongdoing.
In a separate deposition in 2009, an on-site manager who worked at one of the Sterlings’ buildings described a time that Rochelle Sterling visited the building.
“She said, ‘Oh, my God. This is so filthy. I can’t remodel my apartments the way that I want because Latinos are so filthy,” manager Maira Oliva said, according to the Times.
“Did she say those exact words, ‘Latinos are so filthy’?” an attorney asked Oliva.
“I can’t remodel my building the way I want and that the building was filthy because of the Latinos,” Oliva replied.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday announced that Donald Sterling had been banned for life by the league. The move came after an investigation into the now-infamous comments attributed to Sterling, in which he could be heard telling his mistress, identified as V. Stiviano, to not bring black people to his games. In addition to the ban, Silver announced his intention to push for the forced sale of the Clippers.
Thus far, Rochelle Sterling has kept her distance from her husband’s scandal. Just a month ago, she filed a lawsuit against Stiviano, seeking the return of a $1.8 million Los Angeles apartment, as well as several luxury cars. And on Sunday, she issued a statement to TMZ referring to Donald Sterling as her “estranged husband.”
“Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband,” the statement said. “My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices. … We will not let one man’s small-mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love.”
On Tuesday, members of the Clippers voiced support for Rochelle Sterling.
“It’s a tough one for Shelly, really,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told ESPN. “She didn’t do anything wrong. You have compassion for her. I kept hearing about the girlfriend, and Shelly’s the wife. You know what I mean? I talked to her today, and she’s been through as much as anyone as well. She asked if she could come, which I thought was a very nice gesture, and she just wanted the players to know that she loved them and she told me to tell them. I thought why not?”
Clippers star point guard Chris Paul echoed Rivers comments
“Coach talked about it in our locker room how I’m sure it’s been tough on her also,” Paul told ESPN. “She came to our game to support us in Golden State, and for us it’s tough, but I can’t imagine how tough it is for that family so we’ll let them get through that. I think the biggest thing for us is getting back to basketball and doing what we love.”
Rochelle Sterling watched Tuesday’s night’s playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors from a luxury suite at the Staples Center.
(h/t Washington Post)