Among the disclosures in the story, which was based on interviews with more than 100 current and former employees, was that the team’s broadcast department created unauthorized videos culled from lewd outtakes of footage chronicling the making of the team’s annual cheerleader swimsuit calendars in 2008 and 2010.
In a statement issued after the story published online, Snyder denied knowledge of the existence of such videos.
Within hours of The Post’s story, Goodell responded with a statement condemning the “unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior” detailed in the story.
But he stopped short of announcing the NFL would launch an investigation, saying that the league would weigh potential disciplinary measures after reviewing the findings of an ongoing investigation that was initiated by and is being funded by the Washington Football Team.
That ongoing investigation, which Goodell characterized as “independent,” is being led by attorney Beth Wilkinson, whom the NFL recommended to Snyder. Goodell said the league would continue to monitor the progress and “take appropriate action” if it believed the team and its employees were not fully cooperating.
In their letter, Banks and Katz called Goodell’s action “too little and too late,” writing that it fails to reflect the seriousness of the allegations, “which we now know include the production of a highly sexualized and exploitative video that could lead to civil or criminal liability for those responsible.”
They stated that their clients would gladly participate in an NFL investigation but don’t feel safe speaking to investigators hired by Snyder and don’t trust that process.
“Indeed, our clients live in fear of further retaliation by Mr. Snyder, as he has repeatedly demonstrated his propensity to weaponize the legal system to punish accusers and intimidate others from coming forward,” the lawyers wrote.
Additionally, Gloria Allred, a lawyer representing multiple former cheerleaders, issued a statement Thursday saying, “At this point we are conducting our own investigation of the facts. We will then recommend what we believe is the best course of action to our clients. We are determined to seek justice for them in this matter, which has been deeply disturbing and life changing for them.”
According to two former employees, the videos were compiled at the direction of former senior vice president Larry Michael, the team’s longtime play-by-play announcer who retired last month, who they said told his staff to create the video from outtakes of the “good bits” or “good parts” — references to shots in which props such as footballs and beads momentarily failed to cover otherwise bare breasts. One said Michael told staff that the 2008 video needed to be made for Snyder.
In an interview, Michael adamantly denied giving such instructions and said he had no knowledge of the existence of such videos.
Banks and Katz are partners in the D.C. law firm that represented Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 when she accused Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied the allegation and was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
In their letter, Banks and Katz went on to state, “The time is long overdue for the NFL to police this type of behavior and to act decisively to penalize those in its ranks, like Daniel Snyder, who allow women to be repeatedly exploited and mistreated as a prerogative of being a rich and powerful NFL team owner.”
In addition, the lawyers called on Goodell to direct Snyder to release female employees from nondisclosure agreements that bar them from discussing their workplace experiences and to refrain from taking legal action against them.
“The NFL should not abide practices that allow employees to be muzzled, unable to detail the long-standing abuse by this organization,” they wrote.
The Post’s recent report also included allegations from 25 female former employees that they experienced sexual harassment while working for the team. That was in addition to 15 other female employees’ accounts of harassment in a July 16 Post report.
Under NFL bylaws, the league and team owners have the right to attempt to force the sale of a franchise if an owner is deemed to have engaged in conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league. But one person familiar with the NFL’s inner workings expressed skepticism that the new allegations will result in the league challenging Snyder’s ownership.
Also Thursday, Donald Wells, former director of the cheerleaders, and Melanie Coburn, a former member and former marketing director of the squad, sent a letter to roughly 200 former cheerleaders in which they said they were committed to determining each woman who may have appeared in either the 2008 or 2010 unauthorized videos and would alert them as soon as possible.
Addressed to “our beloved burgundy & gold sisters,” the letter included a link to The Post article and voiced empathy for what it referred to as “blatant breaches of trust”
“We are hurting for all of you,” the letter read. “To be clear, we did not know ANYTHING about ‘the good bits’ edits and are horrified about these violations against you.”
In closing, Wells and Coburn thanked those who spoke to The Post for its story and expressed hope that positive change would result.
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