In the Media

Sexual misconduct claims could determine course of Tiger Woods case: What we know (USA Today)

Sexual misconduct claims could determine course of Tiger Woods case: What we know
The dispute between Tiger Woods and Erica Herman appeared to be about his home and money until she made a vague sexual harassment claim.


Herman started this last year by filing a landlord-tenant complaint in state court after the couple broke up in October. After about six years together, she said she was forced out of his residence but had an oral tenancy agreement to remain at his seaside mansion on Florida’s Treasure Coast for five more years. She claimed more than $30 million in damages after being locked out in violation of the agreement.

She filed this lawsuit against a trust established by Woods for his home, not Woods himself, which helped it evade attention from the news media until she filed a related lawsuit in public court last week that named Woods as the defendant.

This was all merely a conflict about his home and money until January, according to court records. Before that, Woods had tried to steer the dispute back into confidential arbitration. In December, he initiated such a proceeding that sought to resolve the conflict there in accordance with the NDA, which requires their disputes to be resolved in private arbitration and not in public court.

But then Herman dropped a legal bomb of sorts.

She invoked these new federal statutes to get around the NDA and confidential proceedings, citing “sexual harassment” or “sexual abuse” but not going into detail. She wants a state court in Florida to determine whether she can be released from her NDA in these circumstances but has not spelled out why.

She implied she could reveal more if given this green light by the court, saying in her more recent lawsuit against Woods that she is unsure whether she may disclose “facts giving rise to various legal claims she believes she has.”

“We do not know anything about the substance of these claims, and the NDA means we won’t know anything until a court decides whether or not the Speak Out Act applies,” said attorney Ann Olivarius of the firm McAllister Olivarius, which has represented survivors of abuse and those who have experienced discrimination. “All we know at this stage is that Herman’s attorney checked a box on the filing that says her NDA is unenforceable for that reason.”