A former makeup artist for the NFL Network detailed allegations of sexual harassment and assault against on-air personalities Eric Davis and Michael Irvin during an interview published Thursday on SI.com.
As ESPN noted, Erin McParland, who began work at the network in 2014, says Davis started by making inappropriate comments toward her before eventually sexually assaulting her during the filming of "Total Access."
One day, before leaving the makeup room, Davis leaned in for a hug. Since things seemed back on track, I didn’t see the harm. Except the hug lingered on too long for my comfort.
The next time I was in makeup and Davis was leaving, he leaned in for another hug. This time, not only was the hug too long, but it was too close. I could feel him pressing and rubbing his genitals into my leg. I felt frozen, numb.
The third and final incident was full-on predatory, and it came during the filming of Total Access, one of the network’s premier shows. Davis went in for a hug and then, with both hands, grabbed and fondled my buttocks. I instantly pulled away, recoiling. I looked him in the eyes and firmly told him, “Hands off.”
His response to groping me at work was simply to walk out with no comment. This was no misunderstanding. I had just been sexually assaulted in my workplace.
McParland also alleges that Irvin made inappropriate gestures and comments toward her while on the set of "NFL GameDay."
In comments made to Sports Illustrated's Tim Rohan, McParland said she reported both Davis' and Irvin's actions to NFL Network's human resources department. With Irvin, she said HR never followed up on the matter. With Davis, she said HR handled her case with "empathy and support" at first. But then the head of the department asked to meet with Davis on the same day she was scheduled to work, leading Davis to go out of his way and aggressively approach her.
"The HR head explained to me that it would be in Davis's best interest to leave the NFL Network quietly," McParland told SI.com. "That would protect both the network and Davis from negative public exposure. Both parties would save face. Lift the rug, sweep it under."
Davis went on to work at ESPN.
In a statement to SI, an NFL Network spokesperson said it took the proper actions in response to McParland's allegations.
"Ms. McParland brought forth allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct," NFL Media vice president of communications Alex Riethmiller said in a statement. "NFL Media thoroughly investigated the allegations and took swift, appropriate remedial action, including severing our relationship with Mr. Davis. The NFL is committed to providing a safe work environment for all of our employees."