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Washington Football Team cheerleaders claim sexual harassment

Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder allegedly told a team cheerleader in 2004 that she should got to a hotel room to ‘get to know’ a personal friend of his, and one club executive instructed employees to create a lewd behind-the-scenes video of partially nude cheerleaders at a 2008 calendar shoot, according to the latest wave of accusations against the embattled NFL franchise.

In total, 25 women came forward to tell the Washington Post they were sexually harassed while working for the Washington Football Team.   

The latest piece follows a previous report in which 15 women accused the team of permitting a hostile work environment rife with sexual harassment. The allegations are just the latest chapter in a chaotic off-season in which the club bowed to pressure from Native American groups and sponsors by dropping a nickname, ‘Redskins,’ that many believed to be racist.

According to The Post, ex-team employee Brad Baker was told in 2008 by then-senior vice president and lead radio announcer Larry Michael to make the cheerleader video for Snyder.

‘Larry said something to the effect of, ‘We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him,” Baker told The Post.

That claim is being disputed by Tim DeLaney, a former team employee who Baker said was involved in the making of the video.   

‘I was never asked to create an outtakes video, and I have no knowledge of anyone creating one or even being asked to create one,’ said DeLaney, who now works for the Arizona Cardinals. ‘I certainly would have remembered that conversation had it happened.’

Snyder was not personally accused of any workplace misconduct in The Post’s July 17 piece that detailed allegations of sexual harassment, nor was Baker suggesting that he was behind the creation of the video.

However, a former cheerleader named Tiffany Bacon Scourby did accuse the team owner of suggesting she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room so they ‘could get to know each other.

Her account was backed up by three people, including the team’s former cheerleader director, Donald Wells, according to The Post. 

The allegations in the original report, which span from 2006 through 2019, primarily include inappropriate sexual comments, unwelcome overtures and pressure to wear revealing clothing.

On July 17, Snyder issued a statement that said the story ‘strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach [Ron] Rivera earlier this year.’

Some of the 25 women said they decided to talk now because Snyder’s response angered them. A few of them, The Post said, pointed fingers at executives. 

Several names from the previous report resurfaced in the latest wave of allegations, including  Alex Santos, who was recently fired as pro personnel director, Michael, the team’s longtime radio play-by-play announcer, former president of business operations Dennis Greene, who left during a previous cheerleader scandal in 2018 (see below).

Santos is accused of repeatedly asking out former team intern Shannon Slate in 2016, often commenting on her clothing and once telling her the dress she was wearing was ‘a little too short for me not to look at.’ 

When slate approached chief financial officer Stephen Choi to complain, he told the 22-year-old ‘this is a sports organization; men dominate it,’ Slate told The Post, adding that she was advised to avoid Santos or end her internship prematurely.   

Previously Santos was accused of pinching a reporter, The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker, and telling her she had an ‘a** like a wagon.’

Santos and Gershman declined to comment to the newspaper, and Greene did not respond to requests for a comment. 

The latest Post report also said Michael ordered his staff to make a video for Snyder showing ‘lewd outtakes’ from the film shoot for the team’s 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar.

The franchise has obviously had an offseason of upheaval.

Rivera took the reins as head coach on New Year’s Day. In April, the club traded the anchor of their offensive line, disgruntled tackle Trent Williams. Snyder then agreed to drop the team’s controversial name, Redskins, in July, with a new name pending. That came days before The Post’s initial report.

Earlier this month, the team released running back Derrius Guice, a second-round draft pick in 2018, following his arrest on domestic violence-related charges. Wide receiver Cody Latimer was released on Sunday. 

The NFL placed Latimer on the Commissioner’s Exempt List on July 27, following an incident in May in which gunshots were fired in an apartment in Colorado. Latimer was charged with felony assault in the second degree, menacing and illegal discharge of a firearm, as well as two misdemeanors — prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

And last week, Washington named Jason Wright as the team president. The former NFL running back is the first African-American team president in league history.  

This is not the first time that former team cheerleaders have accused the club of condoning an inappropriate work atmosphere. 

In 2018, The New York Times reported that the team trip to Costa Rica crossed professional boundaries, with some cheerleaders claiming they were forced to pose topless during a calendar shoot while an all-male group of sponsors and fans watched. 

Greene is alleged to have sold access to those cheerleaders in 2013, and left the franchise in 2018 after the report was published.  

Several alleged that nine cheerleaders were picked by certain sponsors to be their personal escorts that same night, and while they say sex was not a part of that assignment, they said they felt compelled to cooperate.

Coming off a 14-hour day, some of the exhausted cheerleaders reportedly began to cry upon learning about the ‘escort’ assignment. 

According to the report, the cheerleaders felt the trip was mandatory, even though they were not being paid. The team did cover transportation, meals and lodging.

Some of the cheerleaders were left feeling ‘worthless and unprotected’ afterwards, claiming the Redskins were were ‘pimping [them] out.’

Former Redskins cheerleading captains Charo Bishop and Rachel Gill refuted those claims to NBC’s Today Show after the 2018 report was published. 

The latest allegations come as Snyder is reportedly being pressured to sell his stake in the franchise by the team’s minority partners.  

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news on August 13, Snyder has no intention of selling. The 55-year-old billionaire declined to comment directly to the Journal. A team spokesperson also declined to comment to DailyMail.com. 

Although it’s unclear what the the exact source of the friction between Snyder and the minority owners is, the team’s turbulent recent history includes a long-anticipated and controversial name change from the Redskins, as well as accusations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse in the workplace. Snyder has not been accused of any misconduct.  

According to The Wall Street Journal, the issues among Washington’s owners predate the recent name change and some of the other problems facing the franchise.

The team’s minority owners consist of FedEx Corp. CEO Fred Smith, Black Diamond Capital chairman Robert Rothman and NVR Inc. board chairman Dwight Schar, who control a combined 40 percent stake worth roughly $1.4billion, according to Forbes’ $3.4billion valuation in 2019.

The three reportedly enlisted the help of an investment firm to sell their shares in July amid internal disagreements with Snyder, who had steadfastly refused to change the team’s 87-year-old nickname, the Redskins, amid pressure from Native Americans, social justice groups, and sponsors, who claimed it was racist.

Smith, Rothman, and Schar are still reportedly interested in selling their shares, but might need Snyder’s help to get a fair price. 

As explained by The Wall Street Journal, it can be difficult to get fair market value for a minority stake in an NFL team, unless the agreement provides a clear path to majority ownership. So the minority owners’ shares would likely be worth more to a potential buyer if there were a real chance to purchase Snyder’s stake as well.

Smith thought he found a buyer at least once in the last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, but Snyder was slow to approve the deal and the buyer eventually bought a stake in another team. 

Rothman and Schar have since decided to sell their shares with the help of investment bank Moag & Co.     

Snyder recently filed a lawsuit in India against a local media company, MEA Worldwide, which he claims slandered him in several articles last month.

To aid in that lawsuit, Snyder filed a petition in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia earlier this month to compel a former team employee, Mary-Ellen Blair, to produce discovery evidence for use in the proceeding in India. Snyder is attempting to establish ‘Blair’s motive for seeking to defame’ him, according to the filing obtained by DailyMail.com.

Snyder does not mention any individual partners by name, but does suggest the team’s minority owners were behind stories erroneously linking him to billionaire pedophile and sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his New York jail cell in 2019 following what was ruled to be a suicide.

‘The minority owners [of the Washington Football Team] are apparently looking at bringing him down citing inappropriate and unchaste behavior as one of the major reasons,’ read the filing.  

A Maryland native and lifelong fan of the team, owner Snyder’s business career began in wallboard advertising and telemarketing. By 1996, at age 32, he had become the youngest CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, according to FastCompany.com. 

In 1999, Snyder bought the team and its stadium, now known as FedExField, following previous owner Jack Kent Cooke’s death for $800 million — the most expensive franchise acquisition in sports history at the time. 

To finance the deal, Snyder brought in investors Schar, owner of the third-largest home builder in the US, Rothman, and Smith, the founder and CEO of FedEx, which owns the $205 million naming rights sponsorship on the team stadium.

Although he inherited a team that won three Super Bowls, most recently at the end of the 1991 season, Snyder’s Redskins have taken a nose dive over the last two decades.

Since Snyder bought the team in 1999, the team has a 142-193-1 record with eight head coaches and a whopping 21 different starting quarterbacks over that time.

Snyder has also battled the Washington media, once trying and failing to ban Washington City Paper beat writer Dave McKenna after one of his columns featured the team owner pictured with devil horns and a beard — a depiction Snyder insisted was antisemitic.

He even sued the paper and McKenna, but ultimately dropped the proceedings.

In recent years the Redskins have taken criticism for signing players facing legal problems, such as linebacker Reuben Foster, who was arrested twice for domestic violence, although the charges were dropped both times. 

In a statement, Snyder described the allegations as a ‘hit job’, adding that the allegations are 10 or more years old. However, he added that ‘behavior described’ in today’s allegations ‘has no place in our franchise or in our socity’. 

‘While I was unaware of these allegations until they surfaced in the media, I take full responsibility for the culture of our organization,’ he said. ‘Even before today’s article, I have begun taking any and all steps necessary to ensure that the Washington Football Team is an organization that is diverse, inclusive and respectful of all.’

Snyder said that the team was disappointed Scourby – who is still a volunteer with the team – did not report this alleged incident to anyone in the team in 2004, in her eight years as a cheerleader, or anytime in the past 16 years.

‘Furthermore, I do not have any knowledge of the 10 year old videos referenced in the story. I did not request their creation and I never saw them. There are former employees on the record stating this did not happen.’

‘The unnamed sources who claim it did happen are relying on three degrees of hearsay. After an extensive review of our video archives, we believe these videos to be unauthorized or fraudulent.’ 

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