Detroit Pistons fire assistant GM Rob Murphy after claims of sexual harassment and assault by former employee
DETROIT (FOX 2) - It's been six months since the Detroit Pistons suspended assistant general manager Rob Murphy following misconduct claims from a female employee. Late Wednesday night, Murphy was fired. Now, the woman who came forward, says it was more than misconduct – it was sexual harassment and assault.
DeJanai "DJay" Raska is that now-former employee. She said to work for her hometown NBA team was a dream.
"Growing up in the city, really looking up to the Pistons - ‘the Bad Boys’," Raska said. "To have this opportunity with the Pistons was like a dream come true for me."
But the dream didn't last, and now she's living the bad dream over and over.
"I feel like it was like a nightmare happened. And then being treated this way is heartbreaking," she said. "I can't even watch basketball."
The reason, she says, is Murphy – the now fired assistant general manager. The team said late Wednesday night that Murphy was terminated for violating company policy and terms of his employment agreement.
Raska says Murphy has made basketball, to her, synonymous with sexual harassment and assault.
"Rob attempted to force me to have sex with him, and that's something hard to talk about," Raska said.
The 32-year-old mom is a former realtor with a big heart. We first met her four years ago. In 2019, Raska was collecting prom dresses for girls who couldn't afford to buy their own.
"We just want to help any girl in any neighborhood – any high school – who needs a prom dress," she told us at the time.
She went on to be a project manager, representing local rappers, actors, and athletes. That's how she was connected to the Pistons.
"I came across the Pistons when I wanted to have one of my players who I was managing try out for the G League team," Raska said.
Through a mutual friend, she reached out to Murphy on Instagram. At the time, he was the president and general manager of the Motor City Cruise – the NBA's G League development team. Murphy is a former coach at Eastern Michigan University, a star athlete at Mumford High, and an incredibly successful figure from humble beginnings in the D.
Djay Raska says she was sexually harassed and assaulted by a manager of the Pistons front office. Now, he's been fired and she's suing.
The two struck up an instant friendship.
"He was just like, come in – come check it out," she said. "Once we did that, he said 'you seem pretty together. I'm looking for - we have an executive assistant position here for the G League. Is that something that you may be interested in?'"
Raska was definitely interested and ecstatic. She still wanted to represent athletes, and now she'd get a chance to see the inner workings of a sport and team she loved.
She took the job and started in September 2021. She says Murphy told her to quit her other jobs because this one required her to be all-in.
"I felt like this person believed in me," Raska said.
Instead of booking flights, answering emails, or setting up meetings – this executive assistant says she became Murphy's personal assistant. She said one of her assignments was to pick up his teenage son, every day, from school. She's a single mom with a child of her own and says she was put in charge of her boss's son.
"To make it my full responsibility and my only responsibility – that's a 45-minute drive every day of dropping someone else's child off – being responsible for a teenager that I wasn't ready to be responsible for," Raska said.
She also said that, when Murphy was out of town on scouting trips, he asked her to stay at his house.
"I actually cared about this kid. His dad wasn't around, his mom was out of state, and so to be there with him so he wouldn't be there alone was a huge deal," she said.
So why did she stay? Because she had a family of her own to support.
"Because I did give my other positions away – my other careers away – I have to support my daughter and I have to keep this roof over our heads. So if (all) you want me to do is pick up your son and take care of your son, I'm going to do it."
Raska said she felt humiliated.
"It was just kind of like I was turned into a personal assistant/nanny and I was also called a couple of times ‘the driver’ by his son and his friends," Raska said.
And they weren't the only ones insulting her. She said Murphy would be likable and supportive while giving career advice one day – and then belittling her the next.
"He made statements not only to myself but to another colleague about me - that HR didn't want me there, nobody wanted me there," she said. "My job was going to be given to a person that had a higher education than I did - that HR thought I was 'ghetto'. And that without him, I wouldn't have the position."
Raska says she felt isolated and the one and only time human resources had ever approached her, was to admonish her for her outfit.
"I was told quote 'you look like you're going to a club' by HR. 'You look like you're about to go clubbing'," Raska said.
Raska says she knew she couldn't go to human resources with her concerns about Murphy
"It was definitely the verbal first, and then it led to the physical," she said.
Some of the physical stuff happened at the practice facility and at his house.
"He grabbed - right in front of my daughter - he grabbed my breast area and grabbed my crotch area and said ‘this is going to be mine one day’," she said.
Even then, she says, she couldn't tell HR
"My main concern and fear (was) that I would be fired, without a doubt, fired and silenced," she said.
What was happening, Raska says, was way worse than she could have imagined. Remember, she was assigned to stay overnight while Murphy was out of town.
"He had came home at a time when he said he was going to be out of town and things had escalated into a space where I was extremely uncomfortable," she said. "We were standing there in the doorway of his office and he grabbed me and he kissed me on the mouth and he was like ‘hey do you want to sneak downstairs’. I'm just like 'no I'm okay, I'm good Rob.' I definitely don't want to do that. And he was like - I want to put a baby inside you."
Raska said she locked herself in another bedroom and left early the next day. She repeatedly told him she wasn't interested, but she remained assigned to stay with his son. But again, he showed up unexpected.
"He tried to force me to engage in sex with him at his house and it was forceful. And it was to the point where I had to gain my strength mentally, emotionally, and physically to get myself out of that situation," she said.
Raska said she told him she was on her period - that she didn't want this.
"He said 'you just think too much, you need to let stuff happen. This isn't a big deal. Sex is sex' all these things and I'm just thinking in my head - what just happened to me?" Raska said. "I remember getting in my car and pulling away and tears coming down my eyes again."
Raska said she confided in some coworkers because she didn't want it to happen to them. One, in particular, urged her to speak up.
"We were both in tears talking about it ," she said. "She's like, ‘DJay, you have to say something. He has to be stopped.' And in that sit-down, I realized that I was going to be the person to stop him."
Raska says she started working from home and stopped picking up Murphy's son from school. Instead, a young female equipment manager was assigned to do that. Raska and the Pistons eventually parted ways after that.
But she said Murphy continued to text her and then he had big news: Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver - a longtime friend of Rob Murphy - appointed Murphy assistant general manager of the Pistons.
"He continued to call and text and then in August – I guess when he got the promotion as a GM – he sent me a link to the website to show that he had been promoted," she said.
Raska kept ignoring him but couldn't ignore what he had done.
"That's when I had to realize this is not okay. This is not typical – a man hitting on you, a man being interested in you. This is a man using his power to abuse, harass, and assault you. This is not okay."
She eventually contacted attorney Megan Bonanni, whose clients include survivors of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar.
"We contacted the organization. We presented her concerns. We gave them a list of what happened and we asked them to investigate and look into it," Bonanni said.
In October 2022, the Pistons suspended Murphy, citing an investigation into misconduct involving a former female employee.
"When I did hear that he was suspended, I felt liberated," Rasak said.
She sat down for a two-hour interview with Pistons' attorneys but since then, there was no movement.
"I was informed that the interview with DJay was helpful and that she appeared to be credible, but since that time in October, we have heard nothing," Bonanni said.
Raska has since sat for a lie detector test that she passed with flying colors.
"We want transparency, we want accountability, and we want Mr. Murphy to be held accountable," Bonanni said.
They seek accountability in a sport that’s seen far too many allegations of sexual harassment. They are now filing a civil suit in Wayne County against Murphy and the Pistons organization for sexual harassment and retaliation and assault and battery.
They've also filed another complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is now under investigation. That could lead to a case in federal court.
"Silence is not an option, it's not for me, it shouldn't be for any other woman – women before me, women that come after me – I have a daughter, silence is not an option," Raska said. "I really want justice."
"This is my chance to voice the truth, my way, and it will be heard and take my power back."
Raska's attorney says "it is a shameful situation that it took the threat of a lawsuit for the Pistons to do what was appropriate after all of these months. This is not the rogue employee - it’s the organization that is corrupt. The organization condoned and approved and were complicit in what he did and they were hoping that Ms Raska would go away."
When reached for comment on Murphy, the team said the termination of his employment was a confidential personnel matter and have no further comment.