Adrienne Lawrence says she was terminated after complaining about his behavior and that of other men at ESPN. Her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Connecticut, includes text exchanges, including one in which Buccigross sent Lawrence a shirtless photo of himself. “I’m a white boy and I’m jacked,” he allegedly wrote.
The lawsuit contends that Lawrence’s experiences fit a decades-long pattern of disregard for female employees at ESPN. The suit alleges that men at ESPN watch porn in the office, ogle their female colleagues, “groom” them for sexual relationships, and keep score among each other of sexual conquests. The suit includes extensive quotations from “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” an insiders’ history of the network, as well as several explosive allegations.
“It was an open secret at ESPN that certain female on-air talent provided sexual favors to management in exchange for on-air opportunities,” the suit states. “Women at ESPN are to be objects accessible to their male counterparts without objection.”
An ESPN spokesman denied the allegations, and said that Lawrence was not retained at the network because her two-year fellowship had come to an end.
“We conducted a thorough investigation of the claims Adrienne Lawrence surfaced to ESPN and they are entirely without merit,” the network said. “Ms. Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told that her contract would not be renewed at the conclusion of the training program. At that same time, ESPN also told 100 other talent with substantially more experience, that their contracts would not be renewed. The company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
The complaint cites lawsuits against ESPN, and references other allegations that have not been aired in court. In one example, the suit alleges that anchor Chris Berman left a threatening and racially disparaging voicemail for commentator Jamele Hill. The suit alleges that nothing was done to discipline Berman.
Hill responded on Twitter on Monday, saying the incident had been misconstrued.
“A few years ago, I had a personal conflict with Chris Berman, but the way this conflict has been characterized is dangerously inaccurate,” Hill wrote. “Chris never left any racially disparaging remarks on my voicemail and our conflict was handled swiftly and with the utmost professionalism… Frankly, I’m more disappointed that someone I considered to be a friend at one point would misrepresent and relay a private conversation without my knowledge — in which I simply attempted to be a sounding board — for personal gain.”
Regarding Buccigross, Lawrence claims that he lured her into visiting his home with the false promise of mentorship. She says she refused his advances and ultimately reported him to human resources. She says that HR covered for him, describing him as a “good guy.”
Her attorneys, Brian Cohen and Russell Yankwitt, said in a statement that her suit is intended to send a message that ESPN “can no longer turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.”
“We believe that justice will prevail, and that ESPN will finally be held accountable for its culture where women are routinely humiliated, degraded, and marginalized,” they said.