Former NFL Hall of Famer Richard Dent, who played with the Chicago Bears, is fighting to clear his name after being accused of alleged sexual misconduct with a mysterious and unknown white woman whose allegations caused him to lose between $3-$5 million in electric power contracts in the $13.2 billion Illinois power industry.
The alleged rumors cost Dent a lucrative marketing contract with the energy supplier, Constellation NewEnergy, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp based in Baltimore, Maryland. Dent had had several contracts with the company for nearly six years with no problems.
The allegations have not only cost Dent millions of dollars, they have tarnished his name to the point that it is affecting his ability to garner more energy contracts.
That is why Dent has hauled Constellation NewEnergy, Inc.; CNE Gas Supply, LLC; Constellation Energy Gas, Choice, LLC; and Constellation Gas Division, LLC into court to force the companies to reveal who lied about him. It is the only way his lawyers can find out who the false accusers are.
Dent’s case, which includes his company, RLD Resources, and his fate now rest with the Illinois Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last September.
During Dent’s historic career, he played as a defensive end in the NFL from 1983-1997 including12 seasons with the Chicago Bears; he was the MVP in the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl victory. Dent was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
When Constellation refused to disclose the names of the accusers, Dent filed a Rule 224 petition with the Cook County Circuit Court to find out the names of the persons he says defamed him by accusing him of allegedly harassing and groping a white woman and displaying drunken behavior.
When Constellation learned of the alleged accusations, the company launched an investigation resulting in the cancellation of Dent’s contract.
Dent’s nightmare began in September 2018. Two attorneys who represented Constellation, Grace Speights and Theos McKinney, II, according to court records, went to Dent’s office and told him that a female (white) Constellation employee accused him of making inappropriate sexual remarks to her. It was also alleged that he groped her at two separate Constellation-sponsored Pro-Am Tournament events in 2016 and 2018.
The lawyers met with Dent to give him an opportunity to deny the allegations and determined that Dent’s denials were not credible. Court records said Dent told the attorneys that “all of these allegations were completely false.”
Then an unidentified man, also white, told Constellation he allegedly saw Dent in a Chicago hotel collecting materials for a Constellation-sponsored event and that he was drunk and disorderly.
When Dent asked for the identities of his accusers, the lawyers refused to give up the names but told him they would be reviewing his energy contract. That review resulted in the termination of all of his contracts.
In June, 2019, the Cook County Circuit Court denied Dent’s petition. The Court agreed with Dent that this Rule 224 Petition was not a “fishing expedition,” but then denied his petition on the basis of a case prohibiting the use of Rule 224 for “fishing expeditions.” Dent appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which unanimously overruled the trial court’s interpretation of Rule 224.
“Sexual harassment is a serious workplace problem, but our efforts to combat it must not be allowed to undermine the law’s commitment to fundamental fairness and due process,” said Paul Neilan, Dent’sattorney.
“Depriving Dent of his right to confront his accusers makes allegations equivalent to evidence, and accusation to conviction.”
In support of Dent is Dr. Charles Steele Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who told the Chicago Crusader, “Black folks are being discriminated against in terms of economic parity and not being represented in corporate America.”
Steele was questioned about Dent’s case and asked if it doesn’t smack of something that used to happen frequently in the South, in Mississippi, and said, “You can’t put that on Mississippi. The whole country is racist. Chicago, Illinois, is just as racist as Mississippi.
“America will never be what it should be…. Corporate America never shared in the property with African Americans. We are economically enslaved,” said Steele.
“Racism is a virus, and it is passed along from generation-to-generation. Corporate America is still involved, with the lack of inclusion and the oppression of Black folks. Don’t put it on Mississippi because it’s all over America for the past 400 years,” Steele told the Chicago Crusader.
Dent has denied the sexual harassment allegations. “I am not that kind of person. I wasn’t raised to be that kind of person. This was a scare tactic to run me out of my space in the energy markets. I was the only African American to have a license (to sell energy) in Illinois,” Dent said.
At 60, Dent said he dealt with racism when he played football.
“I have lost from $3 to $5 million in the last three years.” He said in one of the alleged incidents, he was with the mayor of Waukegan, but Constellation didn’t even bother to talk to him. “This is personal. It’s raw racism. They have stained my reputation, and I will fight to clear my name.”