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Reynolds files lawsuit against ESPN over dismissal

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Former ESPN baseball analyst Harold
Reynolds sued the network for at least $5 million Tuesday, saying
he was wrongly fired after a female intern complained about what he
called a "brief and innocuous" hug.

Reynolds joined the sports network in 1996 after a dozen seasons
as a major leaguer and was fired July 24. According to his lawsuit,
filed in New Britain Superior Court, ESPN terminated his new
six-year, $6 million contract without specific reasons.

"I have tried everything possible to handle this situation
quietly behind the scenes," Reynolds said in a statement released
Tuesday. "After numerous conversations and multiple mediation
discussions with ESPN executives it is clear that ESPN had no
intention of solving this problem amicably."

Reynolds is seeking the money owed to him under the remainder of
his contract, including interest and lost earnings. He is also
asking the court for damages for lost future opportunities.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said Tuesday that Reynolds'
allegations are without merit and the network stands by its
decision to terminate his contract.

"We have no further comment now that litigation has begun,"
Krulewitz said.

According to the lawsuit, ESPN terminated Reynolds' contract
"for cause," but gave no further explanation or specific reasons.
It also alleges that ESPN has refused to give Reynolds or state
labor officials a copy of his personnel file.

His contract, according to the lawsuit, said he could only be
fired for "failure to perform," which required "intentional or
continual activities" contrary to ESPN's instructions, or else
required "willful or egregious action ... which would constitute
an act of moral turpitude."

"Mr. Reynolds has never, in his career as a baseball player or
with ESPN, intentionally engaged in a 'failure to perform' his
duties in any material respect," the lawsuit said. "For example,
he was punctual, well-prepared, professional, creative and
personable, both in the studio and on remote assignments."

Joseph Garrison, a New Haven-based lawyer for Reynolds, said,
"Moral turpitude, in my opinion, is not reflected by an innocuous
hug. I think the case is very strong."

The lawsuit said Reynolds hugged a female intern in July and the
two had dinner later the same night. Reynolds has not seen the
intern since, and she made no complaints about his actions until
three weeks later, the lawsuit said.

"For 11 years I served ESPN with enthusiasm and dedication,"
Reynolds said. "It is unfortunate that ESPN has handled this
process in an unprofessional manner. At the end of the day my
integrity, reputation and family are my top priorities, and for
those reasons I need to set the record straight and clear my
name."

Reynolds played for the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and
the California Angels before joining ESPN. He won three Gold Glove
awards and one stolen base title and was a two-time All-Star.