In an essay published in the New York Times on Sunday, Ms O’Brien wrote that the assault happened when she was interviewing the player in a hotel room.
Choosing not to share his identity, Ms O’Brien wrote, “We spoke for a few minutes as I asked some questions and he answered. Then he moved suddenly to kiss me.”
She recounts how despite saying “no,” he pushed her over to the bed and then raped her. She said at the time she did not speak up because she feared that it would have ruined her career.
“I was 22 with no track record, and at that time — nearly two decades ago — most people in baseball would have rallied to protect the athlete. So I blamed myself,” she wrote. “I must have been too nice, too trusting, too friendly and open. Even though I said no, it must have been a misunderstanding. I lived in fear the story would get out.”
She said, that soon after the assault, one of the players stared at her, saying her name and that of the person who had raped her. “Suddenly I realised he must have told people, making himself out to be a stud and me some girl who was there to pick up ball players instead of to do my job. I felt humiliated and ashamed. The player who had raped me never said another word to me.”
From false rumours about sleeping with a team executive to being nicknamed “Legs”, Ms O’ Brien elaborated on several instances of sexual harassment she was routinely subjected to while working as a sports reporter.
“Players commented that I must be wearing a thong under my pants since they couldn’t see any panty lines, or maybe I wasn’t wearing underwear at all,” she wrote.
“There was the road series where players watched porn on a large television in the clubhouse, even when it was open to reporters. During that same series, a player asked what sexual positions I liked,” she recounted, saying that it was the only time she spoke. The general manager acted quickly once he heard about it.
“But it did occur to me — being able to watch porn in a work setting with no consequences might have led to him thinking he could do that.”
She said that her decision to speak years later was prompted by the recent firing of former New York Mets General Manager Jared Porter for sending sexually explicit texts and photographs to a woman reporter in 2016.
“I will no longer allow my life to be defined by a violent act committed by a man. Talking about it is traumatic, but not talking about it is as traumatic in a different way. So I leave you with my story, and the realisation that my truth from all those years ago has not actually changed at all, but has finally found the sunlight,” she wrote.