LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When the racial comments scandal first broke, Donald Sterling’s estranged wife Rochelle first denounced him.
Hours later, she stood by her husband of 57 years and said the idea he was racist was impossible.
To many observers, she was trying to distance herself from his racially-charged comments and trying to appear supportive at the same time.
But as KCAL9’s Serene Branson reported in the KCAL9 News at 10 p.m. Thursday, a new video and comments that she has made in the past will make it difficult for her to keep much distance.
Branson talked to a crisis communications expert from Simi Valley and asked if, in his expert opinion, if her reputation was tarnished as well.
“As she tries to take a bigger and more high profile role,” said Eric Rose, “I think the backlash would be immediate and shocking to her.”
When the scandal first broke, Rochelle said “I do not condone those statements that you heard. I do not believe in them. I am not a racist.”
“Right now, she is a victim,” says Rose, “however, if she tries to take a bigger profile with the team, I am fearful that people will begin to look closer and deeper into her background.”
Branson said Rochelle had just as much a role in several housing discrimination lawsuits as her husband has. In one 2006 lawsuit, she and her husband were accused of harassing minority tenants.
That suit was settled in 2009 for $2.7 million without the Sterlings admitting any wrong-doing.
Video has also surfaced from ABC’s “Nightline” apparently showing Rochelle posing as a housing inspector to gain access to tenant’s apartments.
“I find it very difficult to think that the NBA owners would want her to be a representative of the team especially given the legal troubles that have followed her in the past,” said Rose.
Branson said she was unable to reach anyone from the Sterling camp for a comment.