A Boston Globe report published Thursday night described an ESPN culture of hostility toward women and detailed a harassment complaint filed by a former employee.
The report also detailed how some women attempted to hide their pregnancies out of concern for job security. Former anchor Sara Walsh tried to conceal her pregnancy complications, and last spring revealed on Instagram that she had suffered a miscarriage while she was on air.
The Globe reported that Adrienne Lawrence -- who joined ESPN in 2015 -- in August filed a sexual harassment and retaliation complaint against the network with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
“ESPN has failed to address its deeply ingrained culture of sexism and hostile treatment of women,” Lawrence told the paper.
Lawrence claimed that one of ESPN's veteran anchors, John Buccigross, sent her shirtless photos, and she also accused him of spreading rumors that the two were in a relationship. Lawrence said her complaints to ESPN were ignored. She claimed that she subsequently received fewer on-air shifts and was not offered a permanent role.
Buccigross told The Globe in a statement: “I considered Adrienne to be a friend. I’m sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn’t my intent.”
ESPN spokeswoman Katina Arnold released a statement on Thursday night, saying that the network had investigated Lawrence's claims and found them "without merit."
"We conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit," Arnold said. "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 Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, where Lawrence filed her complaint, told the paper that Lawrence requested her complaint be released so she could sue in federal court.
Lawrence on Friday tweeted about The Globe story, as well as ESPN's response to her claims, claiming that the network singled her out and ignored key allegations.
Earlier this week, ESPN suspended former NFL players Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis as it investigates claims of sexually inappropriate behavior from their time with NFL Network. Both men work for ESPN Radio shows.