BREAKING NEWS: NBC fired Matt Lauer after allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment he perpetrated on his colleagues came to light. He's not the first to be held accountable for his actions. And he certainly won't be the last. Allegations against these high-profile individuals will continue as more and more women find their voices. Seems like we all have a story these days... here's one of mine.
This story isn't about the partner at my first real law firm job out of school who would stare at my breasts instead of look me in the eyes when we talked. Yep... I noticed. This isn't about the time the Boston Celtics were in town to play the Dallas Mavericks and a couple of the guys made a point to whip off their towels when they noticed women in the media group. It was obvious. And I've got about twenty other stories but there's one that will always stick out in my mind.
In late 2009, I became a member of D210TV. We had a kick-ass group of women who covered everything from the red carpet to sports. It was an amazing job (albeit a volunteer one) that I loved. In 2011, things got really exciting when the Mavs made their championship run and ended up winning the whole darned thing. Every national news outlet had folks on the ground in Dallas. There were a lot of regional reporters in town as well. Seemed like a perfect time to network with folks to see if a sports journalism career was what I really wanted.
One night I happened to make eye contact with a tall, lanky reporter who made a beeline for me. For the purpose of this post, we'll call him Mork. He said he worked for an affiliate out of New York and hadn't been to Dallas. He asked if we could exchange numbers in case he had any questions. He also offered up his "expertise" in sports if I had any questions. The whole thing freaked me out from the beginning but I figured it wasn't a big deal. Networking was part of the business.
But then the phone calls and the texts started.
There were at least 2-3 of them per day asking what I was doing or if I wanted to grab a nightcap. I made it clear to him that I wasn't interested in his advances. Early on when I told him I was married, he told me that we could just keep it between us. I was stunned. And disgusted. I wasn't quite sure what to do or how to respond. All I could do was ignore his calls and texts.
On game days, anxiety started manifesting itself. I was constantly looking around to see if Mork was around. I had escape routes if I saw him approaching. Scary thing he always managed to find me. We'd be chowing down on a pregame meal and there he was. We'd be walking in the hallways and there he was. My producer/director was very aware of what was going on and he was super protective. But there were times where we just couldn't avoid this guy. Later I found out he was doing the same thing to another young female African-American sports reporter. He was a total stalker and he seemed to have a type when it came to his prey.
By the last home game, I was completely freaked out. I was sitting next to a couple of guys from 105.3 the fan and enlisted their help if Mork showed up. I'd managed to avoid Mork during pre-game and I was super concerned he'd find me. Luckily I was able to avoid him but the harassment had taken it's toll. I spent more time hiding from Mork that night than paying attention.
So why didn't I say anything back then? I did. But D210 was new on the scene and I didn't want to cause any trouble for our crew because we'd worked so hard to get our foot in the door. Retaliation was a concern - if I complained, would D210 have its credentials revoked? I even wondered if I sent Mork the wrong message by giving him my number. No... I was clear. This wasn't my fault. He was a predator.
I withdrew a little bit after that experience. Actually... a lot. And every time another high-profile person is fired and/or steps down, I think about the time the sports reporter from New York stalked and harassed me.