- At least 15 women have accused Washington Redskins staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse during their time working for the team. Others accused top employees of creating a hostile work environment.
- The allegations include derogatory remarks about physical appearances, unwanted flirtation and touching, and other actions that belittled female staff members.
- While team owner Dan Snyder was not named in accusations of sexual harassment, he was pointed to as fostering a toxic workplace culture.
- The team has hired an attorney to conduct a thorough review of the matter. Snyder has condemned the reported conduct, and the National Football League says they will meet with the team’s attorneys after the review is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment
All the women are former employees of the professional football team. Fourteen of the 15 who spoke chose to remain anonymous as they had signed nondisclosure agreements with the team. When The Post asked if they could be released from those agreements to speak on the record for their story, the Redskins declined. The Post spoke with 40 current and former employees and reviewed text messages and internal company documents in their investigation.
The report details derogatory remarks, unwanted flirtation, verbal abuse, as well as a culture that cultivated and encouraged toxic behavior and the belittlement of women. Emily Applegate, one of the women who came forward, said female employees were encouraged to wear tight-fitting clothes “so the men in the room have something to look at.”
“It was the most miserable experience of my life,” Applegate said. She worked for the team throughout most of 2014 and 2015 and claimed that she and other female staffers frequently cried on the job from the distress the harassment caused.
The allegations stem from 2006 to 2019. Team owner Dan Snyder was not specifically named when it came to sexual harassment, though he was pointed to when it came to the team’s hostile workplace. Other higher ups on the team were named, and three are no longer with the Redskins.
Who Was Involved?
Larry Michael, senior vice president of content and the team’s radio announcer, retired on Wednesday. Seven former employees accused him of talking about the appearances of female staffers in sexual ways. According to the accounts of these former workers, he suggested one female staffer was sleeping with other employees, said one staffer had a “tight ass,” and would often talk about how attractive he found his female colleagues to be.
Alex Santos and Richard Mann II were the club’s director and assistant director of pro personnel. They were both fired last week. The Post alleges that Santos would make remarks about female employees’ bodies and asked if they were romantically interested in them. He was also accused of flirting with female employees in front of other staff members, and in one case, allegedly pinched a woman’s butt in front of multiple people.
The Post received texts where Mann told a female employee that there was an ongoing debate among men working for the team about whether or not she had plastic surgery to enhance her breasts. He told her to not “be mad” and that it was a compliment. In another text exchange, he told a female employee that he was going to give her an inappropriate hug.
“And don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else,” Mann wrote.
The three men declined to speak to The Post for their story. The report also claims Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, sexually harassed women and encouraged them to wear revealing clothing. He left the team in 2018 after it was discovered he had sold access to the team’s cheerleaders.
Mitch Gershman, the team’s former chief operating officer, was also accused of berating female workers. He left the team in 2015. Applegate specifically accused him of harassment, but Gershman said he does not even remember who she is.
“I thought the Redskins was a great place to work,” he told The Post. “I would apologize to anyone who thought that I was verbally abusive.”
A Toxic Workplace at the Redskins
According to The Post, the team has one human resource staffer for 220 employees. That staffer also had administrative responsibilities.
One former female employee told The Post that “there’s no HR” and no “reporting process.”
As for the allegations of a toxic culture, Snyder allegedly berated top executives, including Greene. Snyder allegedly forced Greene, who was a cheerleader in college, to do cartwheels after one meeting.
“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment…and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne told The Post. In 2003, she was briefly the team’s vice president of communications. Before this, she was an assistant press secretary in the Clinton administration.
Payne said she did not experience any sexual harassment herself, but noted that given the company’s culture, it’s no wonder the women who did may have been reluctant to report to HR.
The Team’s Response
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” the team told The Post. “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.”
This is the second time this month the Redskins have made headlines for addressing controversy. Last week, the team announced that they will be changing their name and logo, which has repeatedly come under fire for being racist. No new mascot or name has been revealed yet.
For the allegations they are currently facing, the team has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”
“We’re trying to create a new culture here,” the team’s new coach Ron Rivera told The Post. “We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going as opposed to where we’ve been.”
Snyder initially refused to comment to The Post for their Thursday story. On Friday, he issued a statement saying that the reported conduct “has no place in our franchise or society.”
“This story has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach Rivera earlier this year,” he added.
This came shortly after the National Football League released a statement condemning the behavior outlined in The Post’s report.
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment,” the league said. The NFL plans on meeting with attorneys after the team’s review of the matter is completed and will take action based on the review’s findings.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (USA Today) (CNN)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.