The sporting world was rocked last Friday when news broke through Sports by Brooks that a temporary restraining order had been filed against NFL standout and current CBS Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe in an Atlanta court. A petition was filed on Thursday by Michele Bundy accusing the “NFL Today” panelist of forcing her to have sex (sexual assault), making multiple death threats, and stalking. The temporary restraining order was granted for Bundy, who is believed to be a former girlfriend of Shannon Sharpe’s, and her daughter, who was included in the petition. Although the matter seemed to go underground for a few days, it resurfaced Wednesday when Sharpe announced that he would “step aside” from his position as analyst on “NFL Today” until “the matter is resolved.”
The seriousness of the allegations are manifold. Not only are the accusations personally damaging to Shannon Sharpe, they could spell the end of his career as an announcer or sports analyst/commentator. And then there are the legal issues. Not only could Sharpe face untold civil complications due to the nature of the allegations, but criminality may be involved as well, spelling out even more legal woes for the former all-star Broncos and Ravens tight end.
A hearing is set for Sept. 20 to hear Michele Bundy’s arguments for making the restraining order permanent.
According to the temporary restraining petition obtained by Sports by Brooks, Bundy’s list of allegations include:
“Forced to have sex with him. He repeatedly calls and threatens her life. Places her under surveillance and calls to say he is watching her.”
It must be pointed out that, even though the nature of the acts are extremely serious, Shannon Sharpe has not been criminally charged for sexual assault, stalking, or making threats on another’s life. It is also unclear if such charges are forthcoming.
But Sharpe seems to have a propensity for finding himself in legal trouble with women. According to the New York Post, Sharpe has been involved in no less than 10 civil complaints since 1994. All of the complaints involve women. Like Michele Bundy’s, all of them were filed in Fulton County courts. One of the complaints was filed by the mother of one of his children, but the charge was later dropped after mediation.
The Post also reports that Shannon Sharpe is involved in a child support issue in another Georgia jurisdiction.
Precedent is not shining a favorable light on the eight-time Pro Bowler. However, a history of prior complaints does not mean that Sharpe is guilty of the acts of which Michele Bundy has accused him.
But they certainly do nothing in the way of enhancing his image, either.
CBS issued a short statement about the matter as well: “We accept Shannon’s decision and decline to comment further on a pending legal matter.”
Given the seriousness of the allegations, reticence by CBS, where the NFL standout has worked since 2004, is in order because they don’t want to appear to be insensitive to what could amount to serious crimes, nor do they want to be seen as abandoning or accusatory toward an employee who might be innocent. As for Shannon Sharpe’s brevity, it may simply be, given the circumstances, his best option.