Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Fans sit in the upper deck before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Landover in 2018.
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
The Washington Post has released a sweeping investigation reporting that more than a dozen women have alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former Washington football team employees.
According to the Post, the allegations span from 2006 to 2019 — most of Dan Snyder's tenure as team owner — and concern unwanted comments or overtures of a sexual nature. Multiple women allege that employees pressured them to wear revealing clothing and flirt with clients in order to close sales deals.
Earlier Thursday, D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson confirmed her law firm had been retained to "do an independent review of the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct," in an email to DCist and WAMU. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news.
At the time, Wilkinson did not address follow up questions about the nature of the allegations or the timeline of the investigation. "That will be our only statement," she wrote in the email.
Social media had been buzzing for nearly three days about the anticipated Post investigation.
Murmurings began to circulate after a series of notable firings and retirements at an unusual time. Those types of announcements usually occur after the season — these, however, came during the summer, right before the season.
On Saturday, Washington fired Alex Santos, director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann II, the assistant director of pro personnel.
Wednesday, lead play-by-play radio announcer and team chief content officer Larry Michael announced his retirement after 16 seasons. The team declined to comment to the Post about Michael's retirement.
Santos, Mann and Michael are all named in the Post investigation as among those alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
A 2018 New York Times article highlighted allegations against the team from cheerleaders.
ESPN's Schefter is also reporting that minority owners of the team are seeking to sell their stake.
Owner Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999 and the team has had little success since prompting many fans to beg Snyder to sell the team.
The independent review is the latest in a newsworthy-month for Washington's NFL team.
On Monday, the organization announced it was getting rid of its name, a racial slur for Native Americans, but has yet to announce a new one. The change came after several sponsors asked for the change and many stores pulled the team's merchandise from their online stores.
"As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward," the team wrote in a Monday news release.
In May 2018, the New York Times reported some Washington cheerleaders were told to be topless during part of a calendar photoshoot in Costa Rica in 2013. They were also asked to accompany male team sponsors and suite holders to a nightclub, the Times reported.
The Times reported: "Their participation did not involve sex, the cheerleaders said, but they felt as if the arrangement amounted to 'pimping us out.' What bothered them was their team director's demand that they go as sex symbols to please male sponsors, which they did not believe should be a part of their job."
Wilkinson Walsh, the law firm hired to do the independent review, represented Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate-confirmation process for the Supreme Court and Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who was accused of sexual assault by two women. She's also defended tobacco giant Phillip Morris, the NCAA and drug company, Bayer, according to her bio.
"Beth litigates cases of all kinds, including white collar, antitrust, mass tort and product liability, contract, commercial, and class actions," her bio reads. "She also represents clients in front of the Department of Justice, Congress, and other government agencies."