Jonathan Coachman named in ESPN sexual harassment lawsuit
July 14, 2020
This story was updated at 6:50 AM Eastern.
Jonathan Coachman was one of several ESPN employees named in a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed against the company Monday.
Former ESPN employee Adrienne Lawrence filed the suit in Connecticut’s United States District Court, but damages were not specified.
Coachman, now with WWE, was named on page 36 of the lawsuit in the section “Men Preyed on Ms. Lawrence Under the Guise of Being Collegial or Providing Mentorship”.
From the suit:
“On or around January 18, 2016, SportsCenter anchor Jonathan Coachman (“Coachman”) emailed Ms. Lawrence offering to provide her with mentorship and providing his cellphone number. When he contacted her via text, he quickly turned a professional conversation into a personal matter, asking her about her musical interests. He was employing the ESPN predators’ playbook. Colleagues then cautioned Ms. Lawrence that Coachman was notorious for sexually harassing female employees. After learning that, Ms. Lawrence made an effort to communicate to Coachman that she had a boyfriend, after which she did not hear from him again and he made no offers of mentorship.
Coachman’s reputation for making unwelcome sexual advances to ward women and engaging in other sexually harassing behavior was not a secret. Cary Chow had warned Ms. Lawrence about him when he gave the short list of men at ESPN who were notorious for sexual harassment. Coachman had sent Walsh inappropriate photos of himself and text messages, falsely telling her colleagues that they were romantically involved and that she “wanted” him – another common practice of men at ESPN.
At least one young production assistant who joined ESPN just out of college had complained to Ms. Lawrence about Coachman making her feel uncomfortable by complimenting her physical appearance and making passes at her.”
In the footnotes:
“As explained below, when Ms. Lawrence complained to Jack Obringer, Senior Coordinating Producer, StudioProduction of ESPN, Inc. that she was being sexually harassed (by another individual), Obringer guessed that the harasser was “Coachman” and indicated that his inappropriate behavior toward women was well-known to management. Nevertheless, Coachman continued to appear in ESPN commercials and on SportsCenter without discipline or accountability until he was quietly dismissed on or around April 26, 2017 via layoff.”
Coachman hasn’t made any statement about being named as of this writing. He rejoined the company in late-January as a replacement for Booker T on the Raw announce desk.
When asked for comment, WWE released a brief statement to us early Tuesday morning: “”We take these matters very seriously and are investigating.”
This Lawrence story initially came to light during a Boston Globe feature that named ESPN anchor John Buccigross as the main focus of Lawrence’s issues after text messages between the two were released. The suit also claims that former ESPN personality Chris Berman left a racially charged voicemail for ESPN personality Jemele Hill, something Hill denied on Twitter while expressing disappointment at a private matter made public.
ESPN released a statement that they conducted a thorough investigation and that the claims “are entirely without merit” and “the company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
The lawsuit document, and some additional insight into the background of Lawrence’s claims, can be found on Deadspin.