Joe Benigno is the co-host of Joe & Evan, the highest-rated and longest running mid-day show on the New York sports radio network WFAN. In a lawsuit filed today, a long-time station employee charges that Benigno repeatedly sexually harassed her — and then the station retaliated against her when she turned him down. The employee, Lauren Lockwood, says that, among many other things, Benigno asked her to have a threesome with him, his wife, and prostitutes.
The lawsuit also charges that Benigno had a long-term affair, lasting for two years, with a female subordinate. And Benigno is also accused of “ranking” the women in the office, based on their looks. You can read the full lawsuit here.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Lauren Lockwood Claims Benigno “Whispered In Her Ear” About Having Threesomes With Him, His Wife, and Prostitutes
Lauren Lockwood started working for CBS Radio, WFAN’s parent company in 2006. She was an advertising account executive, responsible for bringing in advertisers for the popular Yankees Radio Network. In 2014, after some restructuring, Lockwood’s desk was moved to the same floor as WFAN. And that’s when she says her troubles with Benigno started.
Lockwood says that during Benigno’s breaks, he often came over to her desk and parked himself beside her cubicle, where he would flirt with her, ask inappropriate questions, and compliment her looks.
But she also says that on various occasions Benigno rubbed her back and whispered in her ear about having a “threesome” with his wife and him. He also proposed having a “threesome” with him and a prostitute, or with him and other women working in the office.
2. Lockwood Says Benigno Rated Women in the Office Based on Their Looks, and Told Her All About His Fantasies About Them
When Benigno stopped off at Lockwood’s desk, he also liked to talk about other women in the office. He told her that he had graphic fantasies about the human resources director, Ms. Marion, whom he said would be “wild in bed.” He said he liked to picture her “swinging from the chandelier.”
She says Benigno had a ranking system, rating women in the office based on their looks. She says Benigno said to her,”besides you, Trish is my favorite, she’s gorgeous and cool, Jess Lee and Ana are beautiful and the body on her, oh God, these are my top 3.”
He reportedly also told a woman in the office that he “liked some meat on the bones” and he asked her to “shake it.”
3. Lockwood Says After She Rejected Benigno Her Boss Retaliated Against Her
The lawsuit charges that, after Lockwood turned down Benigno’s sexual advances, her direct boss, Mark Zukerman, retaliated against her. She says that Zukerman and Benigno were good friends, and that Zukerman refused to fire Benigno in spite of her allegations against him.
Lockwood’s suit includes a long list of complaints about the “disparate treatment” she experienced as a woman working for CBS radio. She says she was routinely expected to come into work earlier than the men; she was expected to perform at a higher level; and she was turned down when she asked for the kinds of perks — like tickets to sporting events — that most sales representatives had access to in order to help them woo clients.
It’s not clear whether Lockwood is claiming that all of this “disparate treatment” is because she rejected Benigno, or simply because she is a woman. But the lawsuit does say, “As a result of PLAINTIFF’s [Lockwood] rebuffing BENIGNO’s various sexual advances, PLAINTIFF experienced retaliation from Defendant ZUKERMAN.”
4. The Lawsuit Also Charges that After Lockwood Rejected Benigno, He Moved on to Harassing Another Employee
Lockwood also says that after she rejected Benigno, he moved on to harassing another woman who worked as an assistant in the office. Benigno began using his breaks to go into the young assistant’s office and tell her how beautiful she was. He would sit on the edge of her desk and talk about how infatuated he was with her.
The lawsuit does not give the young woman’s name, or any details about her treatment. But the suit makes it plain that any woman who worked with Benigno was at risk of being harassed.
5. Benigno Already Had a Reputation Has a ‘Perv’ and a ‘Horndog’
Back in 2015, the sports site Bob’s Blitz wrote a scathing post calling Benigno a “perv” and a “horndog” and bashing Benigno for the way he had spoken about women.
Bob’s Blitz charges that Benigno “slobbered” and “horndogged” all over the daughters of NFL star Jim Kelly, and at the same time insulted Joe Namath’s daughters.
Bob’s Blitz called Benigno’s co-host, Evan Roberts, his “partner in grime.”