Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy has filed a lawsuit against the media outlet Insider.com over “false and defamatory” stories that quoted women who claimed that he assaulted them during sexual encounters.
Portnoy, 44, followed through on his threat from last week to take legal action against the online publication after it published a second story alleging that the sports media mogul filmed sex with women without their consent.
Last year, several women told Insider.com that Portnoy became violent during sex by choking them and filming them without permission. One woman claimed that he broke her ribs during a tryst.
Portnoy has strongly denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Insider told the Post: “We stand behind our reporting and will defend the case vigorously.”
The lawsuit filed in Boston federal court on Monday states that the claims made in the Insider.com stories were “an outright fabrication” and that the articles were “hit pieces” that were published “to sensationalize a story in order to drive reader traffic.”
The court papers name as defendants Insider, Inc, and its founder and CEO, Henry Blodget; Nicholas Carlson, the site’s editor in chief; and Julia Black and Melkorka Licea, the two reporters who wrote the stories.
“Somebody has to be the guy who says enough is enough,” Portnoy wrote in a blog entry last week after the publication of the second article detailing additional allegations. “A guy who is willing to burn to make sure his enemies burn with him.”
Portnoy warned: “There will be no settling. No amount they can pay me to get them off their backs. I won’t rest till I put these people out of business.”
Carlson published a blog entry of his own explaining the journalistic considerations that he said went into Insider.com’s decision to publish the stories. “When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” he wrote.
“When such a person faces such accusations from credible sources and denies them — and then more accusers make new, credible accusations that corroborate and add detail to the alleged pattern of behavior, it is newsworthy.”
Portnoy founded Barstool in 2003 in his hometown in Massachusetts, literally taking to the streets to distribute what was then a free four-page newspaper. He later went digital and built the company into a major success.
In January 2020, Penn National Gaming paid $163 million for a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. In 2016, Portnoy sold majority control of the company to Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group.
Shares of Penn National Gaming were trading up by more than 4% on Wall Street on Tuesday.