Friday, February 5, 2010
Irvin accused of rape, files countersuit
ESPN.com news services
Michael Irvin, accused of rape in a civil suit filed Thursday in Broward Circuit Court, has filed a $100 million countersuit.
The suit, filed in Dallas County, Texas, asks for $100 million due to the allegations filed in a lawsuit that claim Irvin, the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and Pro Football Hall of Fame member, raped a woman identified as "Jane Doe" at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., in 2007.
No criminal charges have been filed. The Broward State Attorney's Office has been investigating the case and a spokesman told the Miami Herald he expects a conclusion next week. The Herald first reported the story late Thursday.
Irvin, currently in South Florida for the Super Bowl, had hosted a talk show on ESPN Radio 103.3 in Dallas and works as a television analyst for the NFL Network. He no longer works for ESPN Radio 103.3, but a spokesman said Friday he will be on the air this weekend for the NFL Network.
"His contract was up and the show has not performed," ESPN said in a statement released Friday. "We had previously decided to cancel the show and determined this morning to make it effective today. The permanent replacement begins at 11 a.m. CT [Friday] -- Ben Rogers and Jeff "Skin" Wade ["Ben and Skin"]."
Irvin's lawsuit claims that the civil suit filed by the woman caused him to be fired from his radio job. "This is nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to carry out Plaintiff's extortion plot while capitalizing on the media circus that is Super Bowl weekend," Irvin's lawsuit said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a Super Bowl news conference Friday, said he was not aware of the assault allegation. The NFL Network is a part of the football league.
"We'll obviously take it seriously, make sure we understand the facts and then take the appropriate steps," Goodell said.
Irvin's lawyer, Lawrence J. Friedman, called the rape accusations "totally untrue," according to the Herald. Friedman, asked by the paper to describe the woman's contact with Irvin, said: "Beyond, perhaps, meeting her, there was nothing."
Friedman's firm filed the lawsuit on Friday afternoon. A copy of the suit was sent via e-mail to ESPNDallas.com.
According to the woman's suit, she claims the attack happened late on July 4 or early on July 5, 2007. The suit claims Irvin bought the woman alcohol and took her to his hotel room, where Irvin raped her and another man forced her to perform oral sex. The other man is unidentified because, according to the woman's lawyer, David Lister, she doesn't know who he is.
The suit claims Irvin's brother, Derrick Irvin, "assisted in covering the sexual assault and rape up," according to the lawsuit.
Seminole police were informed of the alleged incident on July 20, 2007, Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner told the Herald.
"They investigated it thoroughly," Bitner said. "Although by that time there was no longer any forensic evidence or surveillance video."
The paper said the woman signed a "waiver of prosecution," in what Bitner descibed as "her desire to essentially put it behind her and not have it be splashed all over the newspapers."
Both attorneys said settlement talks had taken place, but broke down. Friedman told the Herald the woman first asked for $1 million, then $800,000. Lister told the Herald that Irvin's lawyers asked for a settlement figure.
"This complaint is tantamount to criminal extortion," Friedman told the Herald. "There is no merit to the complaint."
Lister said the woman had passed a polygraph test and told the Herald: "There were discussions back and forth between the parties. Nothing came of it."
Irvin's countersuit claims that interference with current prospective business relations, civil conspiracy and defamation and slander, along with civil extortion and duress, among its five counts. It asks for a jury trial.
Irvin has been in the headlines several times during his career with the Cowboys and in retirement.
Irvin pleaded no contest to a cocaine charge in 1996. The same year, he and Cowboys teammate Erik Williams were accused of assaulting a Dallas-area dancer. The allegation turned out to be false and the woman paid a fine and spent three months in jail.
Irvin was arrested on drug possession charges in August 2000. He and a woman were charged, but the case was dropped after the district attorney determined that a police officer conducted an improper search.
In 2005, Irvin was pulled over for speeding in Plano, Texas and, after a search, police said they found a marijuana pipe and plastic bags with marijuana residue. Irvin was arrested on an outstanding warrant for an unpaid speeding ticket in Irving, Texas, and also was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Two days later, Irvin stated on ESPN's "Sunday Night Countdown" that he had taken the pipe away from a longtime friend who was battling drug addiction and that he had forgotten to throw it out and had left it in his car.
And in January 2009, Irvin claimed he was the victim of a carjacking attempt, but that the two men who drove up alongside his car and flashed a gun drove away when they recognized who Irvin was. Dallas police suspended the investigation 17 days later, stating they couldn't proceed without more information and that Irvin had not cooperated with police.
He also competed on "Dancing with The Stars" in 2009. He was voted off the reality show as it was trimmed to its final five contestants.
He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He played 12 seasons in the NFL, all with the Cowboys, catching 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. He won three Super Bowls in his career and was selected to the Pro Bowl five times.
He played collegiately at the University of Miami.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.