ESPN: Rape Civil Claim ‘Expedited’ Irvin Firing?

Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports:

Michael Irvin and Jerry Jones

Michael Irvin has done his last radio show for ESPN 103.3.

“The show was not performing and we had previously determined to end the show,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told me.

Krulewitz said news of a lawsuit filed in Fort Lauderdale alleging a rape in 2007 simply expedited the situation.

Irvin’s real crime with the radio station was falling ratings.

Irvin’s other employer, NFL Network, told me earlier this morning they had not decided if Irvin would work any more Super Bowl studios.

Stunning decision, at least from my perspective. As was ESPN’s decision to air the civil allegations against Irvin this morning on SportsCenter.

ESPN has long maintained that it does not report civil claims against high profile sports figures until the judicial process is meted out. ESPN previously used that justification for not initially reporting the Ben Roethlisberger rape allegation in Lake Tahoe.

The accusation of Irvin involving an alleged 2007 rape is a civil claim that appears dubious. When the alleged sexual assault occurred, police investigated the matter and concluded that no wrongdoing took place.

Diana Moskovitz
of the MIAMI HERALD reports on the accusation:

The incident was reported to Seminole police on July 20, 2007, Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said.

“They investigated it thoroughly,” Bitner said, “although by that time there was no longer any forensic evidence or surveillance video.”

A day later, the woman signed a waiver of prosecution, which Bitner attributed to “her desire to essentially put it behind her and not have it be splashed all over the newspapers.”

More:

Friedman, Irvin’s attorney, called the discussions attempts at extortion.

He said the woman came forward last year, after Irvin appeared on a few episodes of the television show Dancing With the Stars.

First, she wanted $1 million, Friedman said, then came down to $800,000.

Each time, Friedman said no.

“This complaint is tantamount to criminal extortion,” Friedman said. “There is no merit to the complaint.”

Not sure why this situation would merit expedition of Irvin’s ESPN ouster. Or reportage on ESPN SportsCenter, given ESPN’s past track record.

I emailed Krulewitz about why ESPN is reporting the civil claim against Irvin, when it didn’t initially note the Roethlisberger accusation. Have not heard back.

UPDATE (12:09p ET): Krulewitz emailed me back with this:

Our policy for civil suits is and has always been about making judgments.

It’s always been a judgment call based on a number of factors (we listed some of them during Ben Roethlisberger situation) and how the story evolves.

In the Roethlisberger and Irvin situation, consideration is given to the level of media coverage for the particular story and that consideration plays a role in our decision.

There is a point where our effort to be sensitive to not damaging a reputation becomes moot given the amount of media coverage. In this case, prior to ESPN reporting it (Irvin civil claim), it had been reported by USA Today, the New York Daily News, and several other outlets.

Not to mention the story was broken in Miami in front of the largest assembling of media for any sporting event.

Our policy has always been to consider all that. It’s always a judgment call and to report it when we did was the judgment here. 

Fair enough. But if Chris Berman had been accused of the same thing Irvin was and other main media was reporting it, would ESPN be in a big hurry to mention that on SportsCenter?