ESPN, in response to a Boston Globe story about the hostile treatment of women at the sports network, released portions of text messages Friday morning between longtime anchor John Buccigross and Adrienne Lawrence, a former employee who filed a sexual harassment complaint this summer.
The Globe is releasing the full text message exchange as well as the complaint and ESPN’s response that was filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
In her complaint, Lawrence accused John Buccigross, a longtime “SportsCenter” anchor whom she viewed as a mentor, of sending unsolicited shirtless photographs of himself and spreading rumors. Lawrence repeatedly complained to ESPN officials and was advised by a supervisor to drop the matter, according to the complaint. Buccigross denied starting the rumors.
Lawrence said ESPN retaliated against her by reducing her on-air shifts and ultimately denying her a permanent position. Lawrence had worked as a lawyer before she joined ESPN in 2015 as part of a fellowship designed to increase racial diversity at the sports network.
This morning, ESPN posted edited portions of the text messages without the photos on its website and said, “It’s clear that they had a consensual, personal friendship that spanned months.”
Lawrence told the Globe she tried to remain cordial in the messages but at one point responded: “You need to wear clothes, sir.”
This morning, Lawrence added: “I was trying to manage the relationship with someone who kept pushing the envelope and was more powerful than me at ESPN. I didn’t want to put myself in a position where this person would openly disparage me because I cut them off.”
ESPN said Lawrence’s complaint was entirely without merit and it “will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”