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Jonathon Coachman named in sexual harrassment lawsuit against ESPN; WWE investigating

In a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed against ESPN in Connecticut on March 4, 2018, Adrienne Lawrence accuses the network of being “rife with misogyny”. One of several employees the former host and legal analyst names in the suit is current Raw commentator Jonathon Coachman.

Coachman, who returned to WWE in January of this year after working for ESPN from 2008 - 2017, is listed in a section of the filing titled “Men Preyed on Ms. Lawrence Under the Guise of Being Collegial or Providing Mentorship”.

It states:

“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 [former SportsCenter anchor Sara] 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.”

The footnotes of the case allege Coachman’s behavior was known to executives at the network:

“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.”

ESPN states they conducted an investigation into Lawrence’s claims and determined they “are entirely without merit” and plan to “vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”

WWE issued a statement early Tuesday (March 6) which reads:

“We take these matters very seriously and are investigating.”

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