Wizards' Howard Decides To Sue
Sep. 18, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Juwan Howard wants to clear any lingering doubts about his character so the Washington Wizards forward is moving ahead with a lawsuit against a Connecticut woman who falsely accused him and former teammate Chris Webber of sexually assaulting her, an attorney said Friday.
``Howard is not interested in money. He wants the good name and reputation he's had for most of his life restored,'' said Mitchell Rubenstein, the attorney representing Howard in the action filed last June. The lawsuit filed in Montgomery County, Md. seeks $20 million in damages.
``Any individual that has been falsely accused of a crime such as this one can assume that it has damaged his reputation and value as a marketable celebrity,'' said Rubenstein. Howard has not lost any endorsement contracts since Melissa Reed, 25, claimed she was sexually assaulted at a party at Howard's suburban Maryland home on April 6.
Howard and Webber, who has since been traded to the Sacramento Kings, denied any wrongdoing and after hearing testimony from Reed and many of the 40 people who attended the party, a Montgomery County grand jury returned no indictments.
Efforts to reach Reed's lawyer, Ned Collier, were unsuccessful.
``Although the woman repeatedly told my client that she lived in a nice home Connecticut, it's unclear what resources she has personally,'' Rubenstein said.
Rubenstein is seeking a summary judgment against Reed at a Nov. 12 court hearing. ``Her failure to respond is an indication that the initial allegations were completely false,'' he said.
Following the grand jury meeting, Collier said his client testified that she went to a room with Webber and was struck, cutting her lip, then restrained by one of four people present in the room before being sexually assaulted.
Rubenstein says that Howard remains committed to clearing his name, and wants to continue with the action although monetary damages may be difficult to recover.