Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ESPN's Legal Obligation to Report Davis/Fine Phone Call

A lot has been made recently over ESPN's failure to report to the authorities the taped phone call between Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis. In the call, Fine essentially says she was aware of her husband's inappropriate behavior with Davis.

Did ESPN have a legal obligation to report the phone call to authorities?

The answer is no. At law, there was not a positive obligation on ESPN provide information to authorities in cases like this. Yes - it is true that academic institutions have that obligation. However, it does not extend to ESPN.

Also remember this - ESPN has said that it could not get the story corroborated. If it had released the story, and it proved untrue, ESPN would have opened itself up to a claim for defamation (libel). So even if it tried to do the right thing, it could have backfired.

If there is blame to go around (just allegations at this point), I can think of a number of other people that should shoulder it.

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