An 'Ocean Full of Sharks': Reports of Harassment at ESPN

Two dozen current and former employees speak out
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2017 12:40 PM CST
Two-dozen current and former employees are accusing ESPN of fostering a culture of sexism, discrimination, and sexual harassment.   (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)

(Newser) – "It's like cutting your arm in an ocean full of sharks," a current ESPN employee says of being a young female staffer at the sports network. "The second new blood is in the water, they start circling." She says she's personally received unwanted touching from a male colleague and has heard another rating female employees' bodies. That's just the start of the allegations included in the Boston Globe's examination of the "locker room culture" at ESPN. Those allegations of sexism, sexual harassment, and discrimination come from two dozen current and former ESPN staffers. One ex-employee says she was sexually harassed by at least four men at ESPN. A current employee says a male coworker had to escort her to the cafeteria to fend off another male employee who tried to kiss her.

Former SportsCenter anchor Adrienne Lawrence says fellow anchor John Buccigross sent her unsolicited shirtless photos of himself while addressing her as "dollface" and "longlegs." Sources say male employees at ESPN would "mark" new female staffers as theirs by spreading rumors they were in a relationship with them. And Jenn Sterger says she was shown a copy of an issue of Playboy she appeared in by an ESPN executive and taken to a strip club when she was up for a job in 2006. Many of the accusations against the network concern pregnancies and maternity leave, with current and former employees saying motherhood was followed by pay cuts and layoffs. Read the full report here for the story of an ESPN employee who says she felt forced to stay on the air during a miscarriage. (Read more ESPN stories.)

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