Hashtag Me Too is pervasive in sports
VINCENT DAVIS | 12/21/2017, midnight
The sports world has been far from exempt from the current wave of sexual misconduct and allegations that now heavily trend. The convictions of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky in 2012, and the more recent conviction of US Olympic osteopathic doctor Larry Nassar are as horrific and vile, if not more so, as anything that’s been recently reported.
Sandusky’s lifetime conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse of young boys and the 60 years given to Nassar for his sexual assaults on young female gymnasts and for possessing child pornography should at least be points of reference to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, director Brett Ratner, actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Def Jam’s co-founder Russell Simmons, news anchors Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and a list of high-profile men in entertainment, the media and sports who now have various sexual misconduct allegations lodged against then that range from inappropriate comments to rape.
“He abused my trust,” said U.S. gymnasts McKayla Maroney before Nassar’s sentence was issued earlier this month. “He abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away. He needs to be behind bars so he will never prey upon another child.”
Additional cases are still pending against Nassar. Allegations range from inserting his finger into gymnasts’ vaginas and their anuses to fondling their breasts and genitalia during medical examinations under the guise of performing legitimate medical procedures.
Sexual misconduct allegations in the workplace have been recently made against NFL Network analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor. ESPN talk show host and analysts Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis have been suspended pending investigations into accusations by a former co-worker who has sued them for sexual harassment and assault. Eric Weinberger, a former NFL Network executive, was also named in the suit and suspended from his current position as president of the Bill Simmons Media Group.
Adrienne Lawrence, a former employee of ESPN, accused SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross of sending unsolicited shirtless photographs of himself and addressing her as dollface, dreamgirl and longlegs in flirtatious text messages. The suit further contends that ESPN retaliated against her for speaking up by gradually reducing her airtime and denying her a permanent job.
In response to the complaint filed during the summer, ESPN deduced that the pair “had a consensual, personal friendship that spanned months.” ESPN maintains Lawrence’s allegations are “entirely without merit.”
Warren Sapp, fired in 2015, vehemently denied allegations that he sexually harassed Jami Cantor, a wardrobe stylist for the NFL Network from 2006 to 2016 when he was employed there.
“Ain’t no #MeToo,” said Sapp, a former Tampa Buccaneer who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, during an interview. “There’s no sexual harassment. No way, no how.”
The allegations against the network range from age-sex discrimination and sexual harassment to a hostile work environment.
Cantor alleges that Sapp gave her sex toys as Christmas gifts, and that he showed her nude pictures of women he claimed to have slept with, openly talked about his sex life and urinated in front of her, which Sapp denies.
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced that he will sell the team at the end of the season after allegations of workplace misconduct and sexually inappropriate comments directed at female employees forced the team to start an internal investigation Friday. There was also alleged racial slurs directed at a former team scout that resulted in an undisclosed settlement.