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Sunday, December 9, 2018

ESPN releases text messages to defend John Buccigross against sexual harassment claim

John Buccigross

ESPN anchor John Buccigross is one of the people named in an article published on Thursday that provides a glimpse into the alleged mistreatment of women in Bristol, but the network is doing what it can to defend its longtime employee.

The Boston Globe article centers around a lawsuit filed by Adrienne Lawrence, who accuses ESPN of harboring a workplace and environment that is hostile towards women. In the lawsuit, Lawrence claims Buccigross sent her unsolicited photographs of him shirtless and made inappropriate remarks that included calling her “dollface,” “#dreamgirl,” and “#longlegs.” Lawrence said she tried to remain friendly with Buccigross but at one point told him, “You need to wear clothes, sir.”

Copies of the text messages exchanged between Buccigross and Lawrence prove that the aforementioned things were said, but ESPN feels the context is important. As part of a statement on Thursday, the network released portions of the text exchanges to show that Buccigross and Lawrence had a “consensual, personal friendship that spanned months.”

Lawrence never indicated in the texts that she was bothered by Buccigross using pet names for her, though that does not mean she was OK with it. The “#longlegs” remark came after Lawrence took Buccigross up on an offer to use his office, and Lawrence joked about not adjusting the height of his chair.

“Don’t forget, if you ever need any privacy, phone call, Ect, you can use my office,” Buccigross wrote. “I always leave door open.”

“Thanks!!! I do need to use it,” Lawrence replied. “You are so generous. Thank you. Promise not to adjust your seat height.”

“#longlegs,” Buccigross wrote back.

Buccigross seemingly sent the photo of him shirtless after Lawrence joked about the outfit a passenger on one of her flights was wearing. She said she had had a couple of glasses of champagne and was thinking about snapping a photo of the man, to which Buccigross responded that he can only offer a photo of “me making pancakes shirtless … ill throw on oil and be like the flag bearer from Tonga.”

“You need to wear clothes, sir,” Lawrence replied.

Immediately after, Lawrence asked Buccigross if he will be around during the upcoming weekend and expressed interest in hanging out.

The text messages that ESPN showed certainly made it seem like Lawrence and Buccigross had a friendly relationship. At one point, Lawrence told Buccigross he is “the best” and said she would “like you to come by (my house) for carrot cake sometime.”

ESPN investigated the case and found Lawrence’s claims to be without merit. Buccigross acknowledged sending the photos but said he considered Lawrence a friend.

“I considered Adrienne to be a friend,” he told the Globe. “I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn’t my intent.”

ESPN was quick to suspend two employees who were accused of sexually harassing a woman when they worked at another network, but it does not appear network executives have any plans to reprimand Buccigross.

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