Jonathan Coachman was among several current or former ESPN employees named in a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed on Monday.
According to The Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online, former ESPN employee Adrienne Lawrence filed the lawsuit in Connecticut’s United States District of Court.
Damages were not specified. Coachman, who returned to WWE following the Royal Rumble PPV replacing Booker T as part of the RAW commentary team, was named on page 36.
The lawsuit reads:
“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.”
The footnotes also included:
“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 issued a statement that they conducted an investigation and that the claims by Lawrence are “entirely without merit” and that the “company will vigorously defend its position and we are confident we will prevail in court.”
When reached for comment, WWE issued the following to Prowrestling.net:
“We take these matters very seriously and are investigating.”