NOTE: An update to this post is available on this blog at http://bit.ly/tDF4ni.
ESPN’s broadcast of the telephone conversation that Bobby Davis secretly recorded between himself and Bernie’s wife Laurie (ESPN Video) was absolutely appalling. This is not because of Laurie’s reaction to knowing of her husband’s activity, which is indeed extremely disturbing, but because of ESPN’s inaction. People at ESPN had evidence that young men were potentially being abused and did nothing.
According to ESPN’s Mark Schwarz on CNN (CNN Video 2:22 mark)—
We don’t see it as our job to go to authorities with evidence that we collect. We did not go to the authorities.
What’s more, Schwarz says that ESPN delayed broadcasting the recording until now because, “[I]f we were going to actually air the tape, these are grave charges, we had to do everything that we could to confirm that the voice was indeed Laurie Fine.”
Which ESPN reports (ESPN Video) they dutifully did some time in November 2011.
An independent audio analyst has confirmed to ESPN that the voice you are about to hear is the voice of Laurie Fine. And what you are about to hear also, a warning, contains graphic sexual content.
Of course, just prior to making the above comment, the ESPN broadcaster readily admits that the media source not only failed to report the incident but decided to simply sit on the story—
Outside The Lines began speaking eight years ago in 2003 with Bobby Davis about his sexual molestation accusation against Bernie Fine. At that time OTL was provided an audiotape that Davis says was recorded by him in 2001; on it, a conversation between Davis and Bernie Fine’s wife Laurie.
Then comes this little nugget of information: the voice comparison was completed using the telephone conversation recorded by Davis in 2002 and video footage that Schwarz says ESPN secretly recorded of Laurie in 2003 (see the 4:12 mark of the CNN video linked above). This means ESPN could have confirmed it years ago but didn’t solely because they decided to hold the tape rather than “actually air” it.
According to Schwarz, despite ESPN’s attempts to sit on the information, the tape eventually found its way to the proper authorities.
“[O]nce the interviews were done 10 days ago with Bobby Davis and Mike Lang [Davis’ stepbrother] that tape then, through them, got in the hands of the police department.”
For ESPN the matter was merely a business decision and nothing more. The fact that ESPN had evidence of what the company itself defined as “sexual molestation” was inconsequential to the people that worked there. The fact that the activity involved minors and the person accused had ready access to countless young men was inconsequential to the people at ESPN.
Of course, the most absurd fact is that Disney owns ESPN. Yeah, the same Disney that encourages kids to “Share The Magic.”
Which leaves two questions for ESPN and Disney: Who in the corporation was aware that this tape existed and choose to do nothing? Why are they still working at a Disney owned network?