Merritt Paulson: Thorns owner makes team decision amid NWSL scandal

Among the findings of an independent investigation into the Women’s National Football League released Monday, Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson is one of the league’s figures who has helped enable systemic emotional abuse and sexual misconduct.

According to the report, which was led by former acting US Attorney Sally Q. Yates and the law firm King & Spalding, Paulson helped cover up accounts of sexual abuse and coercion regarding former Thorns coach Paul Riley, who was fired by North Carolina State. Courage in September 2021 when the news broke.

On Tuesday, Paulson announced that he would be stepping back from the Thorns organization following the NWSL report.

“The unveiling of the Yates report yesterday was my darkest day, and I know the same goes for anyone else who loves our team and our league,” Paulson said. “I imagine it was even more difficult and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. … I cannot apologize enough for our role in an overall failure to protect player safety and the mistake we made in 2015. I am truly sorry.

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