Thorns GM Wilkinson on leave during harassment investigation

Sports

Gavin Wilkinson placed on leave effective immediately

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The general manager/president of the Portland Thorns was placed on administrative leave Wednesday pending the outcome of an independent investigation into reports of sexual harassment that allegedly occurred on his watch.

Gavin Wilkinson will remain on leave as long as the investigation continues, the Thorns said in a statement posted on their website and social media platforms.

Wilkinson was put on leave after Thorns player Rocky Rodriguez tweeted a list of demands from the players: that Wilkinson be put on leave, that there be more diverse voices in the club’s boardroom and that “the players gain seats at the table…”

In an interview on CBS Mornings, two former Portland Thorns players said the National Women’s Soccer League failed them after they reported being sexually harassed while on the team.

Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim accuse their former coach, Paul Riley, of sexual harassment and coercion. In Wednesday’s interview, the former Thorns say their concerns were swept under the rug — allowing Riley to target other players after he was let go from the Portland soccer team.

Riley has denied all allegations.

Earlier, the Rose City Riveters said they will boycott all concessions at Providence Park. The fan group also said they would not buy any official team merchandise when the team played Houston on Wednesday night.

Longtime fans like “Riveter” Sarah Gehrke showed support for the Thorns fans Wednesday night at Providence Park.

She held a sign: Wilkinson must go.

“We have the biggest stars in the world here. We have the biggest fans. We thought we had the best front office, and so for that to be happening here, it’s honestly chilling,” Gehrke told KOIN 6 News. “We have the spotlight, we have the resources and even that wasn’t enough to protect our players.”

She said Wilkinson’s role in the events “have been well documented. I’m not sure why we have to wait for an investigation.”

Another Thorns supporter, Madeline, said, “It’s really important to show support for them anyways and especially right now it’s just extra important.”

Rose City Riverter Sarah Gehrke showed support for the Portland Thorns players outside Providence Park, October 6, 2021 (KOIN)

“I can’t even imaging having them in that position and them not feeling like they don’t have a voice,” Thorns fan Sarah Ellwood said.

Gehrke said she’s taking more action to drive the point home as well.

“I also have emailed my ticket representative. I don’t plan to renew my season tickets if there isn’t accountability shown by the club for what’s happened,” she said.

The Portland Thorns flag outside Providence Park, October 6, 2021 (KOIN)

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