- Mina Kimes:
• Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine
• Joined ESPN in 2014
• Former features reporter at Bloomberg
• Wrote for Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek
• Spent five years at Fortune magazine
- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
New York Mets general manager Jared Porter sent explicit, unsolicited texts and images to a female reporter in 2016, culminating with a picture of an erect, naked penis, according to a copy of the text history obtained by ESPN.
The woman, a foreign correspondent who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball, said at one point she ignored more than 60 messages from Porter before he sent the final lewd photo. The text relationship started casually before Porter, then the Chicago Cubs director of professional scouting, began complimenting her appearance, inviting her to meet him in various cities and asking why she was ignoring him. And the texts show she had stopped responding to Porter after he sent a photo of pants featuring a bulge in the groin area.
Porter continued texting her anyway, sending dozens of messages despite the lack of a response. On Aug. 11, 2016, a day after asking her to meet him at a hotel in Los Angeles, Porter sent the woman 17 pictures. The first 15 photos were of the hotel and its restaurants. The 16th was the same as an earlier photo of the bulge in the pants. The 17th was of a bare penis.
Reached by ESPN on Monday evening, Porter acknowledged texting with the woman. He initially said he had not sent any pictures of himself. When told the exchanges show he had sent selfies and other pictures, he said that “the more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images.”
After asking whether ESPN was planning to run a story, he asked for more time before later declining further comment.
In December 2017, ESPN obtained the messages after being alerted to their existence by a baseball source. ESPN reached out to the woman, interviewed her and was prepared to report about the allegations but did not do so after the woman concluded her career would be harmed if the story came out. ESPN has periodically kept in touch with the woman – who since has left journalism – and, in recent days, she decided to come forward only on the condition of anonymity because she fears backlash in her home country.
“My number one motivation is I want to prevent this from happening to someone else,” she told ESPN through an interpreter. “Obviously he’s in a much greater position of power. I want to prevent that from happening again. The other thing is I never really got the notion that he was truly sorry.
“I know in the U.S. there is a women’s empowerment movement. But in [my home country], it’s still far behind,” the woman said. “Women get dragged through the mud if your name is associated with any type of sexual scandal. Women are the ones who get fingers pointed at them. I don’t want to go through the victimization process again. I don’t want other people to blame me.”
Porter, 41, was hired as Mets GM on Dec. 13 to help lead new owner Steve Cohen’s front office. He apologized to the woman in 2016 by text after she saw the naked picture and texted that his messages were “extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line.”
In a statement to ESPN Monday night, Mets president Sandy Alderson said: “I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse and has previously apologized for his actions. The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story. We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue.”
Three other people interviewed by ESPN said they saw or were told of the texts at the time. The messages provide a portrait of a rising executive, a reporter working with a limited grasp of the English language and American customs, and how seemingly friendly banter ended in a lewd, unsolicited photo.
The woman met Porter in an elevator at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2016. She said they talked briefly – the only time they ever spoke, she told ESPN – about international baseball prospects and exchanged business cards.
Porter began texting her the afternoon they met and, before the day was over, had asked her three times to get a drink. The woman said she agreed to meet Porter because she thought he was volunteering himself as a source and expected they would discuss baseball. Porter asked in a text if she had a boyfriend; the woman said that at the time, she believed he was simply being friendly, as she did not think someone she barely knew would be so forward. That night, after she said she couldn’t meet with him but would the next day, Porter sent an unsolicited selfie.
“Like?” he asked.
She did not respond.
“If I had a better understanding – not just of the language, but the culture – I definitely would’ve realized sooner what was going on,” the woman told ESPN.
Porter texted again the next day, according to the messages, and attempts by both to set up a meeting fell through. On July 19, 2016, he reached out to her again, inquiring as to her whereabouts and asking: “Why aren’t we hanging out??” Porter asked whether the woman remembered what he looked like and said: “You’re so pretty. Do you have a boyfriend yet?” He sent a selfie and said: “It can be me!”
The woman responded with text shorthand indicating laughter and added: “let’s meet.” Porter asked her for a picture. In her home country, the woman told ESPN, “it’s very common for friends of the opposite sex to send each other photos. I didn’t think much of it.”
After she sent a selfie, Porter responded: “You’re gorgeous. Want more of me?”
She said yes, explaining to ESPN: “I thought it would be awkward to say no. I didn’t think of where it would progress.”
Porter sent three pictures, including the first of several that would show a man lying on a bed with a bulge in his pants. The woman said she initially was confused.
“Like?” Porter wrote.
She laughed again and texted yes, though she told ESPN that she didn’t realize the intention of the photo taken on the bed. “You are not married?” she asked.
Once she recognized the sexual nature of the bed picture, she resolved to cut off communication, she said.
Porter would send 62 unanswered texts – including seven photos – between July 19 and Aug. 10, the day before a final flurry from Los Angeles that included the nude photo.
His first unanswered text, on July 19, said he was not married. He followed up:
“Which picture do you like the most?”
“Want to see more….?”
About five hours later: “Helllloooooo beautiful.”
About 90 minutes after that: “Is it too much for you?”
About two hours later: “Where did you go?”
Almost three hours later, at 2:03 a.m.: “I’m bored.”
The pattern of unsolicited messages without response continued for weeks as the two separately crisscrossed the country watching baseball in different venues, with Porter sending photos from hotels. The day after the woman stopped returning his texts, Porter wrote: “Mad at me?” Later that day, he sent three more pictures. The first was of a World Series ring he had won during his 12 years with the Boston Red Sox, where he had risen from intern to pro scouting director and won three championships. The other two were bed pictures of a man’s clothed groin, to which he added a message: “Am I annoying you?”
Porter sent seven more messages that day, including one that said the Cubs had made a trade and another that said: “You’re hard to get.”
At 2:44 a.m. the next day, Porter texted: “I want to see you.” Seven hours later, he wrote: “Do you want to see me?” Three hours after that, he said: “I’m sorry.” At 10:59 p.m.: “I thought we could have some fun.”
On July 23, his fourth consecutive day of texting without a response, Porter wrote: “:-( I’m a nice guy you know.” Later that day, he said: “Was it the pictures that made you mad?” That night, he sent another selfie.
Porter continued to text the woman sporadically, asking on Aug. 8: “Are you ok?” The next day, both were at Wrigley Field. “I think I just saw you,” Porter wrote. “You’re so beautiful.”
The woman told ESPN she felt panicky and hid from him.
A day later, Porter texted: “I’ll be in LA this weekend at the best hotel in America, can you meet me there?” The day after that, Aug. 11, Porter sent the woman a message at 5:35 p.m. that said: “You’re missing out.” He followed with the 17 pictures, including the one of the naked penis.
About two hours after sending the photos, Porter sent more messages, the first five of which read:
“Are you there?”
“Mad at me?”
The woman said she did not know how to respond.
“Being alone in a different country made it tougher,” she told ESPN. “I didn’t know who to trust and rely on.”
She had shown the sexually explicit image to a player from her home country and an interpreter, who helped craft the response she sent to Porter: “This is extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line. Could you please stop sending offensive photos or msg.”
Porter responded in a series of messages: “Oh I’m sorry.”
“I will stop.”
“I really apologize.” “Please let me know if you ever need anything work wise.”
The next day, he texted again: “I’m sorry.” A day later, he shared a photo from Dodger Stadium. It was the last message, the woman said, that Porter sent.
She considered alerting the Cubs but said she was concerned about possible repercussions. That summer, she said, she had developed a serious sleeping problem and was wracked with anxiety about whether she had made the wrong decision in coming to the U.S. Eventually, the woman said, she told her bosses, who referred her to a lawyer and connected her with a Cubs employee from her home country.
The woman and the employee met during the 2016 postseason in Chicago. The woman did not want to identify the employee publicly because she feared retribution. The employee, she said, told her Porter wanted to apologize in person. She said she did not want to see him. The employee, she said, encouraged her to use the situation to her advantage. She said he pressed her numerous times on whether she planned to file a lawsuit against Porter.
In an interview Monday, the employee confirmed he knows Porter and the woman and that he had discussed the situation with both. When asked by ESPN if he told the woman to use the situation to her advantage, the employee said: “I was just listening to both. I didn’t want to ruin anything. I didn’t want to be on one side.”
Following the Cubs’ victory over the Cleveland Indians for their first championship in 108 years, Porter left the organization to join the Arizona Diamondbacks as an assistant general manager.
The woman said she remained in touch with the Cubs employee and saw him at spring training in 2017, when she said she was still considering filing a lawsuit. The employee became angry, she said, and they haven’t spoken since. The employee denied getting angry, adding that “whenever I was talking to her, I was basically listening to her.”
The woman declined to pursue legal action and told ESPN she has no plans to do so.
The Cubs released a statement to ESPN late Monday, saying “This story came to our attention tonight and we are not aware of this incident ever being reported to the organization.”
“Had we been notified, we would have taken swift action as the alleged behavior is in violation of our code of conduct,” the team said. “While these two individuals are no longer with the organization, we take issues of sexual harassment seriously and plan to investigate the matter.”
Over the course of the 2017 season, the woman said, she turned down opportunities to travel to Arizona to cover the Diamondbacks because she was afraid of running into Porter. She said she did not see him again until the postseason, when he was standing near the batting cage at the Diamondbacks’ stadium. She said she immediately left the area and hid.
“While I was hiding, I was frustrated,” she told ESPN in 2017. “Why do I have to hide?”
Porter’s rise in baseball continued. His name was frequently mentioned when GM jobs opened. He interviewed for the Los Angeles Angels’ job this winter and was a finalist behind Perry Minasian. When the Mets sought a GM to work alongside – and perhaps potentially take over from – team president Sandy Alderson, Porter emerged as a finalist and beat out former colleague and Red Sox assistant GM Zack Scott, who later joined the Mets in the same role.
The woman, meanwhile, returned to her home country and left the journalism industry altogether. She now works in finance.
While she said the fallout of the texts from Porter wasn’t the sole reason for leaving the industry, it caused her to think about her future – and how remaining around baseball long-term was simply untenable.
“It would be a lie to say similar occurrences hadn’t happened to me in [my home country],” she said. “It’s a male-dominated industry. But it was a tipping point for me. I started to ask myself, ‘Why do I have to put myself through these situations to earn a living?'”
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