A former New York sportswriter has revealed in an explosive emotional essay how she was raped by a Major League Baseball player in a hotel room 18 years ago.
Kat O’Brien was 22 and interviewing the unnamed player for a story about foreign-born sluggers adapting to US culture when he “moved suddenly to kiss me,” she wrote in a first-person column Sunday in the New York Times.
“I said, no, no, I don’t want that, but he pushed me over to the bed,’’ said O’Brien, a former Newsday reporter who was working with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas at the time.
“I tried to shove him,’’ she recalled. “I said no, stop, no, stop, over and over. He pushed further, getting on top of me, pulling off my skirt, and having sex with me against my will.
“Afterward, I remember getting in my car, shaking, to drive home, and looking at my blue-and-white skirt from Express, and thinking why did I have to be wearing a skirt? Because it was Texas in summer,’’ O’Brien said.
“I remember, once I got back to my apartment, drinking a bottle of red wine in a desperate attempt to numb my sadness and rage. Instead, I threw up all over the carpet.’’
The former journalist said she never reported the 2002 attack because “I knew that if I told anyone what happened that it would ruin my career.”
“I was 22 with no track record, and at that time — nearly two decades ago — most people in baseball would have rallied to protect the athlete. So I blamed myself,” she wrote.
“I must have been too nice, too trusting, too friendly and open. Even though I said no, it must have been a misunderstanding.”
Soon after she was raped, she said she then ran into an All-Star player in the Arlington, Texas, ballpark’s visiting-team clubhouse, and he “stared at me, saying my name and the name of his teammate, the man who had raped me.”
“Suddenly I realized [the rapist] must have told people, making himself out to be a stud and me some girl who was there to pick up ball players instead of do my job,” O’Brien wrote.
O’Brien said she never spoke to her attacker after he raped her — and she wouldn’t name him now.
“I choose not to name him because it would only open me up to the possibility of having dirt thrown on my reputation; even all these years later and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a former professional athlete wields considerable power,” she wrote in the gut-wrenching column.
“I hope I can help bring about systemic change rather than seek unlikely-to-come justice for one horrible act.”
She explained that she was finally coming forward now after learning in January that New York Mets General Manager Jared Porter had been fired for sexting a female reporter.
“I hadn’t been a sports reporter in 11 years, but as I read accounts of other women’s experiences with sexual harassment, the full force of my own assault hit me,” she wrote.
“And with it came the relief that I actually hadn’t invited it, hadn’t done anything wrong at all, something I had never once considered.”
After what happened to her in that hotel room, the former reporter said she didn’t apply for jobs in cities that had teams who her rapist played for. She also avoided gigs that were higher-profile, lest her personal story somehow got out.
O’Brien — a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania — covered the Texas Rangers for the Star-Telegram and then the New York Yankees for Newsday.
She claimed that in addition to being raped, she endured “smaller daily assaults” that came with being a female reporter in the sports field — including a “false” rumor that she slept with a team exec to land her job covering the Rangers.
A coach also once nicknamed her “Legs” and players suggested she wore thongs, or nothing at all, under her slacks “since they couldn’t see my panty lines,” she wrote.
There also was the team manager — “(not with the Rangers or Yankees)” — who kept a blow-up doll in his office that players would act out sexually explicit scenes with, O’Brien said.
Then there was the porn aired on a clubhouse TV and a player who asked her favorite sex positions, she claimed.
“I hope that by sharing my experiences, more women will feel comfortable speaking up when something is inappropriate,” O’Brien wrote.
“What I feared losing before — my job in sports journalism — is long gone,” she said. “But I have found my voice.”