Ex-ESPN worker who had affair with Phillips sues sports network over firing

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ex-ESPN worker who had affair with Phillips sues

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A former ESPN production assistant whose affair with broadcaster Steve Phillips led to their firings has filed a lawsuit against the sports network saying it defamed her.

The lawsuit by 23-year-old Brooke Hundley, filed Tuesday in Stamford Superior Court, says ESPN defamed her by firing her based on false statements by Phillips and by claiming she had not fully cooperated with its investigation.

Hundley, who was hired by ESPN in 2008 and paid $10.96 per hour, said Phillips made false statements to police in Connecticut portraying her as a danger to his family and himself as an innocent victim. She said Phillips falsely claimed he had been trying to end their relationship.

Hundley says she fully cooperated with ESPN’s investigation. She has said she confronted Phillips’ wife only so he would stop pursuing her.

She accused ESPN of acting maliciously to insulate itself from liability for Phillips’ conduct.

Hundley, who is seeking more than $15,000 in damages, said she lost her job, subsequent job opportunities, damage to her reputation and has been harassed by the public as a result of the publicity.

Hundley in April filed a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities claiming she was fired for reporting Phillips sexually harassed her.

ESPN said Hundley’s claims are without merit. The Connecticut-based network said its investigation found Hundley’s characterization of the events inconsistent.

“Hundley’s claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them,” ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. “Her current charges do not accurately portray ESPN’s handling of the matter.”

Phillips acknowledged his relationship with Hundley.

His representative, Steve Lefkowitz, said Phillips was focused on getting his life and career back on track. Lefkowitz said he’s known Phillips for more than a decade and said he would not lie to authorities.

Phillips and Hundley were fired in October.

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