Remember the bizarre 2012 story that Denver's Internet Crimes Against Children unit was investigating Chris "The Birdman" Andersen? It was worth more than one triple-take as it scrolled across ESPN's Bottomline. The Birdman and drugs—okay, sure, that's fairly reasonable. But child porn? That's beyond the pale.
The investigation caused Andersen to miss a playoff game against the Lakers, and local sheriff's deputies raided his home. He was cut by the Nuggets in July. His attorney, Mark Bryant, went on the offensive, telling the media the issue had "nothing to do with children," while Andersen released the cryptic statement, "I appreciate everybody that's supported me, and I don't want to say anything bad about anybody. It's everybody's worst nightmare, but I just want to thank everyone that supported me and knew this was a lie from the beginning." The Heat took a chance and picked him up, and he won a championship with them in May.
So here's what happened: Andersen, according to Sports Illustrated today, was actually the victim of a Manti Te'o-esque catfish. It began at some point during his tenure with the Nuggets, when he had consensual sex with a woman from California. She misrepresented her age to the Birdman, but she was 17, which is legal in Colorado.
The sex was allegedly hooked up by a woman from Canada. She had gained access to Andersen's bank records, email, social media outlets, and phone, and she was the one—not Andersen—who first contacted the minor. From there, it got weirder.
She then began communicating and corresponding with the woman from California. At one point, representing herself as Andersen, the imposter began making demands -- some of them, sources say, sexually explicit -- of the California woman.
The woman believed that it was Andersen making the demands and felt increasingly threatened. Eventually she went to the authorities. The sexually suggestive threats triggered the investigation of the Internet Crimes Against Children unit. When Douglas County Sheriff's office executed its search warrant on Andersen's home in Larkspur, Colorado, 40 miles south of Denver, police took his computer and other electronic equipment.
Investigators in the U.S. and Canada worked to connect dots, they amassed more than 4,000 pages of documents and found tentacles in multiple states. According to sources, there were allegedly multiple victims in multiple states -- and may be other athletes whose identities were involved -- but investigators believe one woman is at the center of it all.
The Canadian woman has now been charged with personation, extortion, and transmission of child porn. And the Birdman's name is cleared. He's free to fly high again. (But not because of drugs!)
Lesson of the day: Never talk to anyone online, ever.