Football Player Fined Over Alleged Sexual Harassment of Woman Reporter
FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ The New England Patriots said they fined a player over the alleged harassment of a woman sportswriter who complained an athlete exposed himself in the locker room and made lewd comments.
Patriots owner Victor Kiam, meanwhile, was quoted as referring to the reporter as a ″classic bitch″ and saying the Boston Herald had been ″asking for trouble″ in sending a woman to cover the football team.
The incident remains under investigation by the National Football League, which has authority to fine, suspend or otherwise discipline players and owners.
″There’s certainly no place in the NFL for harassment of any reporters, male or female,″ league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday. ″We want to be sure that steps are taken so it won’t be repeated.″
The incident occurred in the Patriots locker room Sept. 17, a practice day.
Herald reporter Lisa Olson was interviewing an athlete at his locker near the showers. She said another player, Zeke Mowatt, came near her, exposed himself and made lewd comments. She said she also heard sexually offensive remarks from other players but couldn’t identify them because she was too upset to look up.
Patriots general manager Pat Sullivan issued a statement Monday saying a few players were involved and one player was fined. He said team policy prohibits disclosure of the player’s name and the amount of the fine.
″I have reached the conclusion that an incident of verbal harassment and abuse occurred which was totally unacceptable and unwarranted,″ Sullivan said. ″However, my investigation has been unable to confirm the allegations that a player suggested physical contact with Ms. Olson.″
A group of players was to prepare a written apology to be presented to Olson on Wednesday on behalf of all players.
The Herald reported that on Sunday, Olson asked Kiam in the locker room, ″Do you want to watch me or follow me around?″ The newspaper said Kiam then turned to some friends and said, ″What a classic bitch 3/8 No wonder the players can’t stand her.″
The Herald quoted Kiam as saying on Sunday: ″I can’t disagree with the players’ action (Sept. 17). Your paper’s asking for trouble sending a female reporter to cover the team. Why not stand in front of her (naked) if she’s an intruder?″
″Freedom of speech is fine,″ Kiam said, ″but letting women into a locker room goes beyond that.″
Many newspapers send women into locker rooms to cover major men’s sports. An NFL rule gives male and female reporters equal access to locker rooms.
Olson began covering the team during training camp this year. Several players reportedly felt that she was lingering in the locker room and looking around too much.
″It’s my job to go in there and look around and to see who’s hurt and to see the reactions of players,″ she said. Reporters often linger in the locker room waiting until the player they want to interview arrives.
Herald sports editor Bob Sales complained to the league on Monday because, he said, Sullivan hadn’t acted quickly enough to correct the situation.
Fullback Robert Perryman said whatever occurred Sept. 17 was a joke.
″You can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t be here,″ he said. ″I’m sure I probably said something, too. ... I don’t think it was confrontational.″
″Would it be a joke to his sister, to one of his daughters, to one of his girlfriends if someone came up and sexually harassed them?″ Olson asked. ″Would that be a joke to him?″