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Thorns/Timbers owner and CEO releases statement apologizing for missteps in wake of scathing report.

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO. G. DIAZ - Merritt Paulson, owner and CEO of the Portland Thorns, released a statement Tuesday, Oct. 4, saying that he "cannot apologize enough" for the organization's missteps, as outlined in the report released Monday on the investigation into abuse of players in the NWSL and women's soccer led by Sally Yates.Portland Thorns owner/CEO Merritt Paulson on Tuesday said that he, president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson, and president of business Mike Golub will step away from involvement in Thorns business until an investigation by the National Women's Soccer League and the NWSL Players Association is complete. That is expected to be released in November.

Paulson released a statement in response to the investigation into player abuse in the National Women's Soccer League led by former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates. Yates released the report on Monday. Among its findings, the report confirmed that while Paul Riley was coach in 2014-15, players were sexually coerced and emotionally abused.

The report also stated that the Thorns did not openly cooperate with the investigation.

In his statement Tuesday, Paulson was contrite but said he would not answer media queries until the separate investigation by the NWSL is made public.

Here is Paulson's full statement:

"Yesterday's Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league. I would imagine that it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. We have promised the NWSL that we will not do media or make any public statements related to the investigations until the joint NWSL/NWSLPA Investigation is released in November, which is tremendously difficult. I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry. "Given the Thorns are about to enter the NWSL Playoffs, I have told the NWSL that I will be removing myself effective today from all Thorns-related decision making until the joint investigation, which we are fully cooperating with, is released. Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub will do the same. All Thorns related decisions until that time that any of us would have made will now be handled by Heather Davis, our General Counsel. "I very much appreciate your patience and believe it's critical that the process play out with the Joint Investigation. "I love the Portland Thorns and women's soccer, and am taking these steps with those interests in mind."


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