Multiple former Washington Redskins cheerleaders spoke to the New York Timesand outlined a 2013 trip to Costa Rica where they were allegedly required to be topless for a calendar shoot and "picked" to be personal escorts.
The photo shoot was held at the adults-only Occidental Grand Papagayo resort on Culebra Bay. Even though topless photographs would not be used in the calendar itself, some of the cheerleaders were required to remove their shirt. Furthermore, the team invited an all-male contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders to spectate, according to The New York Times.
In another instance, the cheer squad's director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders to be personal escorts at a nightclub, hand-picked by male sponsors.
“So get back to your room and get ready,” the director told them.
Several of them began to cry, according to the Times report.
“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go,” one of the cheerleaders told the NYT. “We weren’t asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what she was doing.”
The cheerleader's participation did not involve sexual activity, but many cheerleaders said they felt uncomfortable and felt like the team was "pimping us out."
“It’s just not right to send cheerleaders out with strange men when some of the girls clearly don’t want to go,” one cheerleader who was there told the Times. “But unfortunately, I feel like it won’t change until something terrible happens, like a girl is assaulted in some way, or raped. I think teams will start paying attention to this only when it’s too late.”
In a statement to the Times, the Redskins said:
“The Redskins’ cheerleader program is one of the NFL’s premier teams in participation, professionalism, and community service. Each Redskin cheerleader is contractually protected to ensure a safe and constructive environment. The work our cheerleaders do in our community, visiting our troops abroad, and supporting our team on the field is something the Redskins organization and our fans take great pride in.”
This story comes just two months after former Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that accused New Orleans of having different rules for the team's cheerleaders and players.
On Thursday, the Redskins issued the following statement:
"The Redskins organization is very concerned by the allegations involving our cheerleaders in the recent New York Times article. We are immediately looking into this situation and want to express how serious we take these allegations. Based on the dialogue we’ve had with a number of current and former cheerleaders over the past 48 hours, we’ve heard very different first-hand accounts that directly contradict many of the details of the May 2 article. I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions.
"Our entire organization has great appreciation and respect for our cheerleaders. From the work they do in the local community, to visiting our troops abroad, and for always representing the Redskins organization in a first-class manner, these women are exemplary members of our organization and are worthy of our utmost respect. We are proud of these women and support them during this time. We will continue to take all necessary measures to create a safe and respectful work environment."