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15 women allege harassment, abuse by ex-employees at Redskins Park

15 women allege harassment, abuse by ex-employees at Redskins Park

More than a dozen women have alleged they were sexually harassed or verbally abused while working for Washington's NFL team.

In total, 15 women told The Washington Post in a story published Thursday that they had been harassed or verbally abused while working for the team, formerly known as the Washington Redskins, between 2006 and 2019. 

One woman told the Post that she was "propositioned basically every day at training camp" in Richmond. Other women told the newspaper about constant unwanted attention from male colleagues, with one woman describing an incident in which she caught a trainer peering up her skirt while she was at the top of the stairs near the entrance to the headquarters while he was down below. 

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“He even leaned to get a better angle,” the woman told the Post. “He wasn’t even trying to hide it.”

“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne, a former press aide in the Clinton administration who worked for the team in 2003, told the Post.

In another incident, a journalist named Rhiannon Walker told the newspaper she was propositioned by Alex Santos, then the team's director of pro personnel, even though he was married and she was in a relationship. She said she felt humiliated and later filed a complaint with the team.

The team was made aware of the the Post's story at the beginning of week, prompting them to hire law firm Wilkinson Walsh to conduct “an independent review of the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct,” co-founder of the firm Beth Wilkinson confirmed to The New York Times earlier Thursday.

Three of the top-level executives that were accused of the harassment were fired this week by the franchise, including Larry Michael, the team's longtime radio voice, and Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel. Santos was also fired.

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“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” one employee, Emily Applegate, told the Post about her experience working at the club. "And we all tolerated it, because we knew if we complained — and they reminded us of this — there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in a heartbeat.”

In a statement to the Post, the team said, "The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously. … While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”  

None of the women who talked to the Post accused the team's oft-criticized owner Dan Snyder or former longtime team president Bruce Allen of sexual misconduct, but Applegate and others said that it was unlikely that they were unaware that it was happening.

“I would assume Bruce [Allen] knew, because he sat 30 feet away from me … and saw me sobbing at my desk several times every week,” Applegate told the paper.

The women, however, did blame Snyder for the team's understaffed human resources department and the toxic culture that tolerated the alleged harassment, according to the Post.

Snyder declined the Post's interview requests and Allen didn't reply to requests for comment. Contacted by The Hill for comment, the team deferred all comments to those published in the Post story.

The allegations come as the future of the team is in flux. On Monday, the team announced that it would retire its logo and longtime team name "Redskins," a racist and derogatory term used to refer to Native Americans. Snyder has frequently been reamed for his consistent defense of the team's former name over the years.

The change was prompted by several of the team's largest sponsors and partners calling for an end to the name. FedEx, the namesake of team's stadium, was just one of the voices calling for the change. Major retailers, including Amazon, Nike, Target and Walmart also took a stand, removing all of the franchise's merchandise from their websites.