Sexual harassment allegations swirl around ESPN

ESPN is denying allegations of sexual harassment against one of its anchors, John Buccigross.

In addition to denying the allegations, ESPN also on Thursday released text messages between the alleged victim and Buccigross to show that they had, in ESPN’s words, a “consensual, personal friendship that spanned months.”

The Boston Globe had reported Thursday evening that Adrienne Lawrence, a former on-air personality, lodged a complaint in which she claimed she was sexually harassed by Buccigross and then faced retaliation from ESPN for having brought his alleged actions to the attention of superiors and HR.

ESPN said in a statement that it “conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit.” It also said it didn’t renew Lawrence’s contract at around the same time that it cut 100 other on-air personalities in April.

The decision to release the text messages was unusual but an ESPN spokesperson said it was made to show ESPN’s confidence in its investigation and position.

But Lawrence provided CNNMoney with what she says is the full archive of messages between herself and Buccigross, as opposed to what ESPN released, which it acknowledged were “portions” of the message history between the two. The archive that Lawrence claims is the full exchange between the two provides important details lacking in the messages released by ESPN, like shirtless photos Buccigross took of himself and sent to her.

ESPN addressed the discrepancies in a statement to CNNMoney.

“While we didn’t include every message submitted in the legal proceeding, we felt the released portions capture the nature of the friendship over a period of months. We purposefully excluded the pictures each party shared in the course of the text conversation.”

The archive of messages released by ESPN begins with a message from Lawrence, who appears to initiate the conversation.

But screenshots of direct messages from Twitter that Lawrence provided to CNNMoney show Buccigross reaching out to Lawrence first.

Lawrence also shared with CNNMoney screenshots of two shirtless photos that Buccigross sent her.

Though the text messages Lawrence provided to CNNMoney, and which were released by ESPN, do suggest a friendly relationship, they also show that Buccigross had started referring to Lawrence as “dollface” within a month of their beginning to text each other. In the stream of messages, Buccigross also said he missed Lawrence’s “pretty face,” called her “doll” and texted her “#dreamgirl.”

Buccigross is also shown, in the message cache released by Lawrence, responding to one of her social media posts with smiley-face emojis with heart eyes.

The text messages are dated from June 2016 through September of that year. Lawrence is shown repeatedly discussing her career and seeking advice on how to navigate ESPN. The two also discussed more personal matters, including dinner plans with each other and teams for which they were rooting.

Within three months of the start of the text messages, Buccigross sent Lawrence shirtless photos of himself on two separate occasions. To the first, Lawrence replied, “Lol!!!!!!” and then “You need to wear clothes, sir.” After further conversation, including talk of making plans to see each other that weekend, on August 9th Buccigross sent the second shirtless picture of himself, and Lawrence responded, “You’re too funny! Have a good show tonight.”

According to the screenshots Lawrence provided to CNNMoney, she did not send him any further texts until the next day, when — in an exchange not released by ESPN — she texted him to offer condolences on the death of ESPN’s John Saunders. Buccigross replied, “Thanks, doll. I need a hug.”

There are no texts shown for the next three days, until Buccigross texted Lawrence to say, “Forget about me? Better options?” followed by two smiling emojis. Several hours later, Lawrence replied, “Sorry about that… got tied up with family. Hope your weekend’s good.” Buccigross then responded, “Hope all is ok. I cancelled everything just in case you hollered. Bourbon and Oreos tonight.” Several hours later, when Lawrence had not written back, Buccigross followed up: “Next time, just drop a note.”

The next morning, Lawrence texted Buccigross, “Sorry if you were disappointed. I would’ve sent a note but we didn’t have a date or time set. I have a lot going on with my family right now and my focus needs to be there. Hope you understand and can have a fulfilling next few days off.”

Lawrence then went silent again, starting a pattern: There would be no texts for a period of days, and then Buccigross would reach out, and Lawrence would respond. Finally, at the end of August, Buccigross sent her a text in which he said, “Really bummed I did/said something to turn you off. I’m sorry if I did. I won’t bug you anymore. But I’m here if you ever need any support. You’re interesting, smart, delightful and pretty. Now decide what to be and go be it. I’m confident you will.”

To that, Lawrence responded, “What makes you say that?”

Buccigross wrote back, “Instincts. Perceptiveness is a strength. I don’t want to over dramatize your day. You got things to focus on. I’m probably overprotective of women. You have it tough in many ways. I don’t EVER want to be a negative.”

Lawrence responded, “I appreciate that. This stuff is very complicated and it is overwhelming even just battling these seasonal allergies. Anyways, I do appreciate your support. I’m hoping to draw on it more in the future once I have better footing where I stand now. :)”

ESPN included none of these exchanges in the excerpts it released, which omits everything of their conversations between August 9th and September 7th, when Lawrence reached out to Buccigross seeking professional advice. ESPN also omitted everything showing the professional reason Lawrence was contacting Buccigross on that date, including only her initial text to him, “Afternoon! Around campus today?”

ESPN does not dispute the authenticity of the text messages Lawrence provided to CNNMoney.

In the complaint, which she filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in August, Lawrence claimed that she only wanted professional mentorship but said Buccigross spread rumors that they were in a relationship.

She claims that when she complained about the harassment to management she faced retaliation and missed out on career opportunities.

Lawrence tweeted a statement on Friday in which she said ESPN is attempting to silence her. The statement also claimed that the allegations are “far broader than text messages and photos.”

According to a commission spokesperson, Lawrence’s case was reviewed and determined to be worth investigating. However, the case was released so that Lawrence could pursue it in court.

Workplace complaints in Connecticut must first be filed with the commission. But once that mandatory step has been taken, it’s not uncommon for people to release their cases and take them to court, according to a spokesperson for the commission. Lawrence has yet to file a formal lawsuit.

Buccigross didn’t respond to a request for comment from CNNMoney. ESPN referred CNNMoney to statements he provided to the Globe.

In his statement, Buccigross acknowledged sending the two photos, but denied starting rumors of a relationship. “I considered Adrienne to be a friend,” he said. “I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn’t my intent.”

Buccigross isn’t the only male ESPN personality accused of sexual harassment.

On Tuesday, before the Globe’s article was published, ESPN was forced to respond to allegations against former NFL players and current employees Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis. The two were alleged to have sexually harassed a woman who was an NFL Network employee while they were working for the NFL Network, before either man moved to ESPN.

The sports network said neither McNabb nor Davis would appear on air while it conducts an investigation. Neither man has responded to the allegations.

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Sen. Bob Menendez presses for dismissal of corruption charges

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez has a message for the Justice Department: Try to prosecute me again on corruption charges or drop it.The New Jersey lawmaker, whose bribery trial ended in a hung jury last month, said Thursday that he wants the charges thro…

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Gift ideas to fit any upcoming college grad: An Amazon guide

Looking for the best gift for a recent or soon-to-be college grad? Who better to ask, than one of those college students? We went straight to the source. As part of Adrian College’s Bulldog Project, student Sean Cain is sharing his advice for some fitting gifts ideas.

This list of top-notch holiday gifts, in no particular order, will have the recent graduate or grad-to-be in your life more than ready to enter the workforce.

Let’s get started! Oh, by the way: We hope you love these recommendations. Just an FYI, WPLG may collect a small share of sales from the links provided on this page.

 

 

 

Local10.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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Hedge fund manager: Trump asked me if Amazon is a monopoly

President Trump’s beef with Amazon came into view again this week.

Hedge fund billionaire Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors, in a television interview on CNBC Thursday, spoke of a comment he says Trump made to him about Amazon at a White House dinner with business executives last summer.

“Twice he asked me if I thought Amazon was a monopoly,” Cooperman said. “I said, ‘No Mr. President I don’t think it is. I think they’ve out executed people and done a very good job.’ ” (CNNMoney was unable to reach Omega Advisors for comment, and Amazon declined to comment.)

Trump at times mingles his grievances with Amazon with his criticism of the Washington Post. Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns the Post.

On Twitter, Trump has referred to the “Amazon Washington Post.”

Trump has claimed that Amazon is using financial losses at the Post to lower Amazon’s tax bill, but Amazon does not own the Post.

Trump has suggested that Amazon doesn’t pay taxes. Amazon collects sales taxes in every state.

Trump has also claimed that Bezos is using the Post to stop congressional investigations into Amazon’s “no-tax monopoly.”

Then there’s Trump’s antitrust claim.

During the campaign, he told Fox’s Sean Hannity that Bezos has “a huge antitrust problem.”

In August he tweeted that “Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt – many jobs being lost!”

In August, the Federal Trade Commission, which still doesn’t have a Trump appointee as a commissioner, declined to block Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods.

The Trump administration’s Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit seeking to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner, owner of CNN, which Trump has repeatedly criticized.

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2,000 cases affected by Baltimore police misconduct, public defender says

The arrests of eight Baltimore police officers on racketeering charges earlier this year may affect more than 2,000 criminal cases, a major increase from previous estimates, according to the public defender’s office.

The affected charges stem from the arrest of officers with the Gun Trace Task Force, a specialized force that dealt with investigating firearms offenses.

In March, seven officers from the task force were arrested on federal racketeering charges and were accused of claiming fraudulent overtime, filing false affidavits and stopping residents — some of whom were not accused of any crimes — to seize their money. An eighth officer was arrested in August on similar charges.

In one instance, officers stopped a maintenance supervisor at a nursing home and stole $1,500 from him that he was planning to use on rent, according to the indictment.

“These are really robberies by people who are wearing police uniforms,” then-Maryland US Attorney Rod Rosenstein said at the time.

Two of those officers pleaded guilty to charges in July.

More than 2,000 affected cases

The public defender’s office counted more than 2,000 cases that can be called into question because they are connected to those eight officers, according to Debbie Katz Levi, the head of the office’s Special Litigation Section.

Katz Levi said her office compiled the number of cases involving each of those eight officers going back to the year when the indictment says their alleged corruption began.

“We’re not using a secret formula,” she said.

About 70 people with affected cases are still in state custody, she told CNN.

However, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City said that about 846 cases have been or will be affected by the officers’ actions, including 277 cases related to the indicted officers.

A total of 569 other cases may be affected by three separate instances of possible misconduct caught on body-worn camera, according to the State’s Attorney. One video, released by the Office of the Public Defender, appeared to show an officer planting drugs at the scene of an arrest in January.

“We will continue to share the progress of this comprehensive review of the impacted cases with the community,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement.

“Public trust is essential to the success of the criminal justice system and our ability to effectively prosecute crime. We will do our part to minimize any erosion to this trust and remain vigilant in our pursuit of justice.”

Katz Levi’s announcement comes three weeks after Baltimore police Officer Sean Suiter, 43, was shot and killed with his own gun after a struggle with an unknown killer.

Suiter was killed a day before he was scheduled to appear at a federal grand jury to speak to what he knew about a 2010 corruption case.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said he was told Suiter was not a target of the investigation and that there was no information connecting his murder to the corruption case. Still, he called on the FBI to investigate his slaying.

“I am growing increasingly uncomfortable that my homicide detectives do not know all of the facts known to the FBI or USAO that could, if revealed to us, assist in furthering this murder investigation,” he said.

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Man found suffering from apparent gunshot wound in Miami

Police are investigating a shooting in Miami.

Miami police said officers were called to a shooting at 1335 NW 21st Terrace early Monday.

When officers arrived, they found a man suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.

The man’s condition was not immediately known.

No other information was immediately available.

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