This morning, Seattle Times reporters Geoff and Mike Baker broke a story about decade-old allegations of "inappropriate workplace conduct" against current Mariners President Kevin Mather as well as two former top executives, Chuck Armstrong and Bob Aylward.
According to the Times, in 2009, Mather, who was at the time the executive vice president of finance and ballpark operations, was accused by two female Mariners employees of using inappropriate language and giving unsolicited backrubs. Around the same time, then-Executive Vice President Aylward allegedly asked his female assistant to help him with a frozen computer, at which point she saw porn on his screen. "There were no other complaints about Aylward," the reporters write. "But court records show Aylward, while an executive VP with the Mariners in September 2003, had been arrested by Seattle police for patronizing a prostitute. He participated in a pretrial diversion program in which he paid $500 and met other obligations in exchange for the case being dismissed."
After Mather's accusers came forward, the claims were reportedly investigated, they received financial settlements totalling over $500,000, and left their jobs.
Some months later, in 2010, Armstrong, who served as Mariners president until his retirement, was accused of asked a concessions manager to deliver a bottle of wine to his private suite in the stadium, at which point the two "engaged in prolonged kissing." The woman, according to the paper, later said she "felt pressured to reciprocate Armstrong’s advances because of his power in the organization." She also received a settlement and had left her job by mid-2011.
Then, in 2015, another allegation emerged, stemming from video footage shot at Safeco Field. During a game, camera operators allegedly zoomed in on two women in the stands. From the Times:
One of the clips focuses for 90 seconds on two women sitting together in the crowd, one of whom is wearing a revealing top with a plunging neckline and no apparent bra underneath. That footage, which appeared to be captured using a high-powered zoom, shows the women chatting with people around them.
Other footage shows two occasions when a woman’s short dress briefly exposed her. In one nine-second clip she stands up, a blanket or coat on her lap slides off, and she’s exposed for a moment before she pulls her dress down. Another clip shows her apparently passed out in her seat, receiving attention from medical personnel. Another 16-second video tracks her as she walks up the stadium stairs, zooming in toward her bare buttocks for several seconds as her dress hikes up.
The footage was apparently saved in a Dropbox folder entitled “9-29-15 Blondes.’’ The Mariners, however, dispute the organization's culpability in this case. In a blog posted on MLB.com after the Times story came out, John Stanton, Mariners CEO, wrote:
We take issue with the way the Times represented an incident in which television cameras focused on two female fans during one game in 2015. The Mariners do not record gratuitous videos of women in the stands. Period.
When the Times brought the incident to our attention several weeks ago, we immediately conducted an extensive forensic investigation. The clips referenced in the story are from a security incident that occurred at our game on September 29, 2015, which ultimately involved paramedics and other personnel. The video was shot by freelance camera operators working on the television broadcast, not Mariners employees. The clips were shared with our Director of Security to help in the investigation of the incident. Our forensic investigation found no evidence of improper sharing of any similar files with employees or others, which would be against Mariners policies. We have taken steps to reinforce our policy and ensure it is well understood across our organization and ROOT SPORTS.
Kevin Mather also responded to the story online: "Almost ten years ago, I had to confront some unpleasant realities about myself," he wrote. "Throughout my career, I've tried to treat people with respect and professionalism. As I was coming up through the ranks, I thought I needed to be a hard-driving manager, but I came to realize that I sometimes came across as intimidating or even mean. I also participated in banter and was at times overly familiar, in ways that I came to realize were inappropriate in the workplace."
The post does not mention either Armstrong or Aylward. Armstrong retired in 2014. Aylward retired in 2017 but is still a paid advisor for the organization.