A woman accuses a professional athlete on a championship team of sexual misconduct and plans to sue. The athlete denies the allegations. ESPN reports the allegations.
But this is not Ben Roethlisberger. It’s Shannon Brown, reserve guard for the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. When Brown was notified that he would be sued for an alleged sex-related incident in June, ESPN.com was there with the story.
And this was not a mere recycling of an Associated Press piece. This was a detailed piece on a story that was “confirmed to ESPN’s Shelley Smith.”
Brown is far from an NBA star, and certainly lacks the national recognition of two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, who was named in a civil suit over an alleged sexual assault. But while ESPN had no problem reporting on the Brown suit, the Roethlisberger allegations have not been discussed on any ESPN outlet.
Pro Football Talk reported on Tuesday that ESPN sent out a “do not report” memo for the Roethlisberger story. Deadspin cited an ESPN source as saying that it’s a “previously established company policy to not report on civil cases involving athletes.” Why that policy did not extend to the generally unknown Shannon Brown is anyone’s guess.