For the second time in three months, The Washington Post has just published an over-6000 word report outlining the Washington Football Team’s mistreatment of women during Dan Snyder’s time as owner. There are some shocking new details and accusations outlined by reporters Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, Liz Clarke and Dalton Bennett, which can be read in full here.
More incredible reporting on culture surrounding the Washington Football Team: 25 women told @washingtonpost they experienced sexual harassment while working for team. Lot of details from @TheWillHobson, @lizclarketweet, @bethreinhard and @DDaltonBennett https://t.co/tBoznrgKzX— Rick Maese (@RickMaese) August 26, 2020
The piece details inappropriate and lewd behavior, and levies an allegation towards former senior vice president and “Voice Of The Redskins” Larry Michael, who directed producers of the 2008 “Beauties on the Beach,” a video about the making-of the Washington NFL team’s 2008 cheerleader swimsuit edition, to create a separate video of the team cheerleaders between takes for viewing by leadership, including for team owner Dan Snyder:
What the cheerleaders didn’t know was that another video, intended strictly for private use, would be produced using footage from that same shoot. Set to classic rock, the 10-minute unofficial video featured moments when nipples were inadvertently exposed as the women shifted positions or adjusted props.
The lewd outtakes were what Larry Michael, then the team’s lead broadcaster and a senior vice president, referred to as “the good bits” or “the good parts,” according to Brad Baker, a former member of Michael’s staff. Baker said in an interview that he was present when Michael told staffers to make the video for team owner Daniel Snyder.
When reached out to for comment, Michael “adamantly denied the allegation” while “Snyder and the team provided no comment after they were given repeated opportunities to respond to this and other allegations in this story.”
A copy of the 2008 video and another that was produced in 2010 was shared with the Washington Post, who were able to verify creation dates: “A technical analysis by The Post and a researcher from the Infomedia Lab at Carnegie Mellon University found no evidence that it had been manipulated. It and a promotional video broadcast by the team share what appear to be identical frames from a topless photoshoot, with the official version blurred and the outtakes version in sharp focus.”
The former employee who provided both videos to The Post described seeing a producer splice the footage together for the 2010 video. According to the former employee, the producer identified the footage as “outtakes of the recent cheerleader shoot” and said the video was being compiled for Snyder.
They also stated that they provided the footage to the Post following their July 16 report was released saying, “I saved the video because I didn’t think anyone would believe it was real” and wanted to see the NFL “hold the team more accountable.”
In addition to the revelations stemming from the cheerleader photo-shoots, the report details accusations that owner Dan Snyder approached another former cheerleader, Tiffany Bacon Scourby, at the 2004 “Fight Night” charity event and suggested she join his friend in a hotel room upstairs at the Washington Hilton where the event was being held.
“We have a hotel room,” Snyder said that 2004 night, according to Scourby. “Why don’t you and Tony go upstairs and get to know each other better?”
Scourby said she laughed sheepishly and waited for a laugh from Snyder that would indicate he was joking. He didn’t laugh, she said.
“Oh, I’m working. Have a great time,” Scourby said she told him before quickly walking back into the crowd. Later that night, she confided in Donald Wells, the cheerleader director, about the conversation.
The interaction between the owner and Scourby was supported by two other people whom she confided in, “her boyfriend at the time, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and a longtime friend, who said Scourby told her about the incident a few days later.”
“There’s a power dynamic, and Dan Snyder looked down on me,” Scourby said. “Because he‘s powerful and our employer, he’s thinks he somehow has the right to say these things to us, to make these requests of us, and he doesn’t. It’s disgusting.”
Scourby also confided in Donald Wells, the cheer-leading squad leader from 1997-2009 who was “laid off with roughly 20 other employees amid the economic downturn.” Wells confirmed Scourby’s detail of the account saying, ““I remember her saying, ‘Daniel Snyder offered me the suite with one of his friends,’ ... She was more or less propositioned.”
Further, Scourby was a participant in the 2008 photoshoot and a volunteer coordinator in 2010. She was able to confirm that the footage from both videos originated from the team’s videographers, saying “I’m horrified. I’m nauseous...The video was a huge violation of my sisters and I.”
In addition to the allegations related to the cheer-leading squad from this report, there was additional evidence provided supporting mistreatment of female employees who worked for the team
This story comes just two months after an initial report in June by Will Hobson and Liz Clarke that led to large-scale changes within the organization including the departure of Larry Michael, in addition to the removal of Alex Santos, the team’s director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel for their behavior towards women within the Washington Football Organization.
According to Brittany Pareti, a D.C.-area marketing executive who worked in Washington’s community and charitable programs from 2007 to 2012, “It was like fresh meat to a pack of wolves every time a new pack of interns would come in.” adding “It was like a frat house, with men lined up in the lobby watching women walk in and out. You constantly felt there were eyes on you.”
Shannon Slate, a former college intern with the club in 2016 said that she tried to meet with Stephen Choi, the organization’s chief financial officer who oversees the lone HR staff member. Slate said she wanted to file a complaint due to “increasing level of discomfort as Santos,” who was 18 years her senior, “pursued her throughout her internship” including daily comments on her clothing and appearance. According to Slate, “He basically said: … ‘This is a sports organization; men dominate it’...’You have two options: Keep your distance from Alex, or you can end the internship early.’ I ended the internship early.”
Further, in 2017 Julie Kalmanides who reported to Choi as the team’s sole human resources employee sent an email to all members of the organization that “included a list of ‘conduct policies.’” including, “It has also been requested that, if at all possible, females are not present in any football areas while the players are here.” In a statement, Kalmanides asserts that she had not authored the memo and that, “the email was written by senior executives she declined to name.”
The Post’s reporting also fills in the gaps and supplements information from reporting by the New York Times related to allegations by team cheerleaders from a different trip to Costa Rica in 2013.
This has been an off-season that has seen tremendous turmoil for Dan Snyder including the ouster of several culprits who perpetuated behavior towards female employees, the about-face that caused him to drop the team’s former nickname under pressure from fans and sponsors despite his insistence he would never do so, and news that three co-owners are attempting to sell their minority stake in the franchise. Taken in its entirety, these newest revelations continue to paint a damming picture of the treatment of women within the Washington Football Team organization under the current ownership, serve as an indictment of Dan Snyder’s leadership, and provide further evidence of a lack of institutional accountability under Snyder’s stewardship of the club.
Updated 3:45pm ET: Dan Snyder has issued a statement in response to today’s Washington Post report: