Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook has been accused of battery and assault in a lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend, Gracelyn Trimble.
And Trimble’s lawyer is not happy with the way ESPN – specifically NFL insider Adam Schefter – initially reported the story.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, attorney Daniel Cragg said the network committed “journalistic malpractice” by focusing on Cook’s side of the story in its initial reporting about the matter. He also called on ESPN’s parent company, Disney, to conduct an investigation into “the editorial decisions that lead to this rush to blame the powerless victim of domestic abuse.”
“ESPN’s journalistic malpractice yesterday sends a painfully clear message to billions of girls and women around the world,” Cragg said in the statement, “that they should be afraid to come forward because media companies like ESPN are more interested in protecting the powerful celebrities that make them money, rather than engaging in honest reporting and competent journalism.”
In a SportsCenter appearance Wednesday evening, Schefter acknowledged that he did not reach out to Trimble or her representation as part of his initial reporting.
“In a case like this, it’s important to reach out to all sides for information and comment,” Schefter said. “When I got the information the other night, I didn’t do that and I could have done a better job reaching out to the other people, especially on a story as sensitive and as significant as this.
“Didn’t do that properly and it’s a reminder to slow down in this world.”
In a brief statement, ESPN said: “Adam acknowledged what happened and we are addressing the matter with him directly.”
The network first addressed the Cook allegations in a tweet from Schefter, at 7:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
“Minnesota Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook is the victim of domestic abuse and extortion – there’s pending litigation, according to his agent Zac Hiller,” Schefter wrote.
Schefter did not specify the nature of the litigation, what it described or who filed it. His subsequent tweets about the story offered additional information from Hiller and a statement from Cook’s attorney, David Valentini.
At 9:52 p.m. ET, Schefter tweeted a link to ESPN’s story about the lawsuit, which bears the headline: “Woman files lawsuit against Minnesota Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, who denies allegations and says he was one assaulted.”
In his statement Wednesday, Cragg said the Minneapolis Star Tribune was writing a story on his client’s lawsuit when “Cook’s agent told a ludicrous story to ESPN” to essentially get out in front of it.
“ESPN ran with this victim blaming story without even bothering to ask for comment from Trimble and without vetting anything Cook’s agent claimed,” Cragg said.
Trimble alleges in the lawsuit that Cook was “physically violent” with her at multiple points during their relationship, particularly during one incident on Nov. 19, 2020. She said she believed Cook had been unfaithful and went to his house to pick up her things, and that he proceeded to throw her to the ground and “beat her with a broomstick,” among other allegations.
Valentini said in his statement that Cook was the victim in the encounter and that Trimble is “attempting to extort him for millions of dollars.” He claims that Trimble was “emotionally abusive” during their relationship and entered Cook’s home without his permission on Nov. 19, then proceeded to physically assault Cook and two unnamed house guests.
Both the lawsuit and Valentini’s statement reference the use of mace during the encounter. Trimble alleges she had stored mace in Cook’s garage, brought it with her into the house and attempted to spray it at Cook but ended up accidentally spraying it in her own eyes. Valentini claims Trimble sprayed mace in Cook’s eyes twice, and also sprayed it at his two guests.
Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dalvin Cook: ESPN ripped by lawyer for initial coverage allegations