Laurie Fine said at a news conference in Geneva, N.Y., shoddy reporting by the sports cable channel ruined her life and reputation, WRVO Public Media reported.
"Today, through my attorneys, I have taken the first step towards restoring my good name," she said. "The lawsuit I file in federal court says it all. I have never engaged in and condone despicable content falsely reported by ESPN, Mark Schwarz and Arty Berko."
Bernie Fine was fired in November after ESPN aired a taped 2002 telephone conversation between his wife and a former ball boy who said he was sexually molested by the coach. Laurie Fine on the tape appears to say she knows her husband is abusing boys and is powerless to stop him.
At her news conference, Laurie Fine said she has been unable to find work since the story broke.
ESPN says it believes the story was accurate.
Bernie Fine does not face any criminal charges and New York prosecutors have said he is protected by the statute of limitations. So far, four men have accused him of abusing them when they were boys and two have recanted the accusations.