A former sports journalist said she was sexually assaulted by a baseball player almost two decades ago in a New York Times essay published Sunday.
Kat O'Brien said she was opening up about the 2002 rape, which she said happened during an interview in a hotel room, for the first time because she hoped "by sharing my experiences, more women will feel comfortable speaking up when something is inappropriate."
"And I also hope more people working in these spaces will bring change, whether in big ways, as an executive empowered to hire more inclusively, or in small ways, speaking up when someone jokes that a woman slept her way to a job or a story," she added.
I wrote an achingly personal piece that the @nytimes published today on being raped by an @mlb player while I was a sports reporter, and as importantly, on the corrosive atmosphere of sexual harassment that female sports journalists face daily.https://t.co/TylQ0mduNt 1/— Kat O'Brien (@OBrien_Kat) June 20, 2021
O'Brien said she was one year out of school at the time and and blamed herself for what happened. She recalls fearing MLB would protect the player and her own career would be ruined.
“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,” O’Brien said in her essay. “I must have been too nice, too trusting, too friendly and open. Even though I said no, it must have been a misunderstanding. I lived in fear the story would get out.”
She said an incident following the assault made her realize the player told teammates a story "making himself out to be a stud and me some girl who was there to pick up ball players instead of do my job."
“That teammate continued to stare at me and make me uncomfortable for as long as I remained working in baseball. I avoided applying for jobs in the cities of teams that he played for,” O’Brien wrote.
O'Brien said the rape was traumatic but that "smaller daily assaults" followed: being asked whether she got a job because she had slept with a team executive, hearing male reporters speculate female colleagues had slept with players, seeing players watch porn on a clubhouse TV while the area was open to reporters.
O’Brien cited the recent firing of former New York Mets General Manager Jared Porter, who sent unsolicited text messages, including nudes, to a female reporter in 2016, and a recent article from The Athletic MLB writer Brittany Ghiroli as reasons she spoke out.
She said she hasn't spoken to her rapist since the assault and chose not to name him in her essay.
The Hill has reached out to MLB for comment.