BOSTON (CBS) — A new report in The Washington Post alleges a pattern of sexual harassment taking place within the Washington Redskins football organization over the course of 13 years.
The report, written by Will Hobson and Liz Clarke, details allegations made by 15 women who worked for the Redskins organization. Only one woman — Emily Applegate — spoke on the record; the remaining 14 women remained anonymous, “citing a fear of litigation, as some signed nondisclosure agreements with the team that threaten legal retribution if they speak negatively about the club.”
The NFL released a statement, which said that the league will monitor Washington’s internal investigation.
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values,” the league’s statement said. “Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment. Washington has engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. The club has pledged that it will give its full cooperation to the investigator and we expect the club and all employees to do so. We will meet with the attorneys upon the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on the findings.”
The report details behavior from former radio announcer Larry Michael, former director of pro personnel Alex Santos, former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II, former president of business operations Dennis Greene, and former COO Mitch Gershman.
“There were so many times that I’d be in the car crying on the way home, and [my coworker] would have to console me on that,” Applegate told the Post. “Then you wake up and you do it again, and it’s just — it’s dreadful.”
The report did not cite any incidents involving owner Dan Snyder or longtime general manager Bruce Allen. The report did, however, note the team’s insufficient human resources department, which led to a culture where sexual harassment went unchecked.
“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne, who worked for the team for one year, told the Post. “With such a toxic, mood-driven environment, and the owner behaving like he does, how could anyone think these women would go to HR?”
One unnamed woman who left the team in 2019 explained how widespread the behavior was within the organization.
“It was my first job, so I kind of normalized it,” she told the Post. “And it was happening to every single one of my female co-workers under the age of 40.”
Female reporters — including The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker and The Ringer’s Nora Princiotti — also detailed stories of sexual harassment from Santos.
Rumors of a very big and very bad story for the Washington football franchise percolated all week, with several reporters “hearing” that this story was coming.
The warped and toxic culture of the Washington Football Team is about to be exposed in a sickening fashion … Again
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 14, 2020
The Washington Post is preparing a story about its NFL team that is expected to highlight the culture that is existed. Within the past week, front office members Richard Mann III and Alex Santos, as well as radio play-by-play voice Larry Michael, all left the organization.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2020
Pro Football Talk reported that the story might publish on Tuesday, though that date moved back a day, and then another day before it went public. The Washington football organization — which made news earlier this month for vowing to change its team name — hired an attorney to dig into the team’s culture.
Washington’s NFL team hired DC attorney Beth Wilkinson to review the organization’s protocols, per league sources. While Wilkinson is expected to conduct a deep dive into the organization’s past culture, team officials are highly upset/frustrated about speculation running amok.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2020
The NFL will wait on the results of that internal investigation before making any decision on potential discipline.
Hobson said he had heard rumors of this behavior for years, but it wasn’t until recently that the information became reportable.
“About two years ago we had heard allegations of mistreatment of women in the workplace, but we just couldn’t get enough women to go on the record and we couldn’t really get anything in the way of documentation,” Hobson said in an interview on SportsCenter. “And thankfully in the last few weeks, that changed.”
Mann, Santos and Michael all left their jobs within the past week. Greene left in 2018, after reports surfaced that the sold access to Redskins cheerleaders, while Gershman left the team in 2015.