Dalvin Cook responds as ex-girlfriend's attorney calls ESPN's coverage of assault suit 'journalistic malpractice'

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As his ex-girlfriend's attorney ripped ESPN's coverage of the story as "journalistic malpractice," Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook made his first public response on Wednesday to a lawsuit accusing him of assault, battery and false imprisonment

News of the lawsuit broke Tuesday evening with former girlfriend Gracelyn Trimble accusing Cook of assaulting her on Nov. 19, 2020. Per the suit as reported by the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Trimble says that she entered Cook's Minnesota home through the garage that day to break up with him and retrieve her belongings. 

Trimble's accusations against Cook

In the lawsuit, Trimble said that Cook "grabbed her arm, and slung her whole body over the couch, slamming her face into the coffee table and causing her lower forehead and the bridge of her nose to bust open." She says that she attempted to spray mace at Cook and that it got into her eyes, prompting her to go to the shower, where she says Cook assaulted her again. 

She then went to a bedroom, grabbed Cook's gun and called a friend for help, per the lawsuit. She says that Cook responded by beating her with a broomstick.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 07, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Dalvin Cook maintains that he's the victim amid conflicting accounts of an incident involving his ex-girlfriend. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Cook's attorney says he was the victim

Cook’s attorney David Valentini described an entirely different scenario, accusing Trimble of being the aggressor while entering Cook's home without permission. In a statement, Valentini said that Trimble repeatedly punched and maced Cook after entering his home with a stolen garage-door opener and held him and two houseguests hostage with a firearm. 

He says that she also maced his houseguests and attempted to assault a female guest, prompting Cook to intervene. Trimble suffered a cut above her nose when Cook stepped in to defend his houseguest, according to Valentini. Valentini accused Trimble of now trying to "extort him for millions of dollars."

Neither party contacted police after the alleged incident, according to the Star-Tribune. The lawsuit contains a text exchange with Cook allegedly writing: "I know what I did can't be rewind...If you wanna go to the police I'll respect that I'll take my punishment for what I did!"

Trimble's lawyer accuses ESPN of 'journalistic malpractice'

In a statement to USA Today on Wednesday, Trimble's attorney Daniel Cragg accused ESPN of "journalistic malpractice" for how it covered the story as it broke Tuesday night:

"ESPN's journalistic malpractice yesterday sends a painfully clear message to billions of girls and women around the world that they should be afraid to come forward because media companies like ESPN are more interested in protecting the powerful celebrities that make them money, rather than engaging in honest reporting and competent journalism," Cragg's statement reads.

ESPN didn't immediately respond to a USA Today request for statement, but Schefter addressed the criticism Wednesday evening. 

How ESPN reported the news as it broke

ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news on Twitter on Tuesday night, reporting that Cook was "the victim of domestic abuse and extortion," citing Cook's agent Zac Hiller. 

He followed that tweet up with another mentioning the stolen garage-door opener accusation.

His initial tweets made no mention of Trimble's lawsuit or accusations that Cook assaulted her. Schefter first mentioned Trimble's lawsuit and assault accusation on Twitter more than two hours after his first tweet on the story.

Schefter has more than 8.7 million Twitter followers and is a widely trusted source of NFL breaking news. The Star-Tribune, who reported details of Trimble's lawsuit shortly after Schefter's initial tweets, has approximately 395,000 Twitter followers. Schefter's reporting of the story was the dominant narrative on social media Tuesday night.

Cragg told USA Today that "Cook's agent told a ludicrous story to ESPN" as the Star-Tribune was working on its story about the lawsuit. 

"ESPN ran with this victim blaming story without even bothering to ask for comment from Trimble and without vetting anything Cook's agent claimed," Cragg told USA Today. 

Schefter: 'I could have done a better job'

Schefter responded to the criticism in a SportsCenter appearance Wednesday evening and acknowledged that "I could have done a better job." (1:20 below)

“In a case like this, it’s important to reach out to all sides for information and comment," Schefter said. "When I got the information the other night, I didn’t do that. I could have done a better job reaching out to the other people, especially on a story as sensitive and as significant as this. I didn’t do that properly. And it’s a reminder to slow down in this world."

Cook reiterates that he's the victim

While Cragg criticized ESPN, Cook addressed the story directly for the first time during a news conference before Vikings practice on Wednesday. He reiterated Valentini's assertion that he's the victim.

"I just want everybody to know, I'm the victim in this situation, " Cook said. "The truth and the details about the situation will come out at a further time. ... I would love to go in detail about the situation. But I don't think that'll be a good idea for me to sit here and talk about a situation that's being handled on a different side."

The Vikings released a statement Tuesday that they are aware of the situation and are "in the process of gathering more information." 

The NFL said "the matter will be reviewed under the personal conduct policy" in a statement issued Wednesday.

The league and Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer confirmed that Cook remains active ahead of Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.