Business Insider published a report Thursday morning that included details of three sexual encounters between Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and young women he met online. The women described their experiences with Portnoy as traumatic and humiliating.
Madison (a pseudonym given to her by Business Insider) was a 20-year-old college student when she began exchanging direct messages with Portnoy, who was 43 at the time. Eventually, she was invited to stay at Portnoy’s house in Nantucket, where she said she had sex with Portnoy once and spent the next two nights sleeping on his couch because of the trauma from the experience. From the article:
After dinner, they started kissing. Madison said she first became uncomfortable when Portnoy pulled out his phone and started filming her — without asking permission — as she performed oral sex on him. “I never said anything. I was scared. He was just so mean,” she said.
From there, things escalated until, as Madison put it, “I felt like I was just a human sex doll.”
Two days later, Madison texted a close friend. “It was so rough I felt like I was being raped he video taped me and spit in my mouth and choked me so hard I couldn’t breathe,” she wrote in messages viewed by Insider. “And it hurt and I was literally screaming in pain.”
She recalled crying and shouting, “Too much! Too much!” and “It hurts!”
“It was so painful,” Madison said. “I kept trying to get away and he was like, ‘Stop running away from me. Stop running away from me.'”
But Portnoy, she said, “just went harder.”Business Insider
Another incident in the article involved a woman who was not given a pseudonym and did not go into as much detail, but had an experience similar to Madison’s:
“I know how he is when someone goes after him,” said the second women, who said she was both choked and filmed without advance permission. She asked not to have the specific details of her experience publicly revealed, fearing harassment from Portnoy or his fans. Insider spoke to someone with whom the woman shared details of her rough sex with Portnoy. “I thought he would say something in public, or share videos of me.”Business Insider
The third incident came from a 19-year-old woman named Allison (also a pseudonym) who had just graduated high school and was staying at her parents’ house in Nantucket. She told Business Insider that she began sending messages to Portnoy to try and get her and her friends invited to a party at his house. Portnoy told her that he didn’t want her friends coming over, but they continued to message each other a week later. Allison eventually went to Portnoy’s house one afternoon, at which point they had sex. Allison described her experience to Business Insider:
“He leaned in and started kissing me and I didn’t know what to do at that point,” she added. “And we went upstairs and he was really aggressive and I didn’t know what to do and we had sex and that was it and he kicked me out.”
Allison said her memories were fuzzy because of her emotional distress surrounding the event, but, like Madison, she said Portnoy choked her.
“He kept spitting in my mouth, which was really gross,” Allison said. “I was kind of scared. I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
A little over an hour later, Allison’s friends picked her up. One of the young women who was in the car told Insider that Allison was uncharacteristically quiet. “She was clearly almost in shock,” she said.
“She basically couldn’t talk the next day,” Allison’s mother told Insider.
Allison does not describe what happened to her as sexual assault but said she was still deeply disturbed by the experience. “I just felt very preyed on,” she said.Business Insider
Allison told Business Insider that word eventually got around the island that she had gone to Portnoy’s house, which caused her extreme anxiety and depression. She said that three nights after having sex with Portnoy, she began having suicidal thoughts and had to be checked into a hospital.
A few hours after Business Insider’s story was published, Portnoy released a 12-minute video response on his Twitter page.
Portnoy described the allegations against him as “jarring,” and said, “If I read them, not knowing me, I’d be like, ‘This guy belongs behind bars,’ basically.” Portnoy admitted that he had sex with both Madison and Allison, but denied that anything non-consensual happened. He described his encounter with Madison as a “totally normal, fine interaction.” Portnoy did not deny that she spent the next two nights sleeping on his couch, but claimed it was because the two of them “did not get along” and “did not see the world the same way.” He then showed flirtatious DMs that he had exchanged with Allison following their encounter in an attempt to undermine the credibility of her story. At no point did Portnoy deny committing the specific acts described by Madison and Allison.
At one point, Portnoy tipped off the preparation he had done for this statement. “My lawyers have been like, ‘Don’t even acknowledge that you know who this person is—anonymous is better because people can just throw it away,'” he said.
Portnoy attributed the existence of the Business Insider report to the fact that the “cancel culture” wants to take him down. He said that Julia Black, who wrote the article, reached out to “tons of girls,” some that he’d had sexual encounters with, over the course of the last eight months to ask them about their experiences, as if that was supposed to illustrate anything other than a sign of the reporter’s care and diligence.
Even taken at face value, Portnoy’s denials and explanations don’t paint a very flattering picture. The most charitable image of him that one can come away with is one in which he is a 44-year-old man who regularly invites women recently out of high school into his home in order to have rough sex with them while recording them without explicit permission.
“I’m scared now,” Portnoy said. “I’m scared now because they’re asking for more. They’re asking the internet, ‘Tell us bad stories about Dave Portnoy.'”
If you have any stories you’d like to tell about Dave Portnoy, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.