Washington Football Team compiled lewd video outtakes of cheerleaders, per report

Tom Schad

A former senior vice president with the Washington Football Team instructed video staffers to compile "lewd outtakes" from cheerleader photo shoots, and more than two dozen women say they experienced sexual harassment while working for the team, according to a report by The Washington Post published Wednesday.

In a wide-ranging story about the team's culture and the experiences of former female employees, the newspaper details numerous allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct at the team's headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, and at other team functions.

It also details one allegation directly involving team owner Daniel Snyder in which former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby said she was humiliated after Snyder approached her at a 2004 charity event and suggested she go to a hotel room with his friend so the two "could get to know each other better."

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder

Snyder said in a statement he had been "too hands-off as an owner and allowed others to have day-to-day control to the detriment of our organization." He pledged to be "more involved" in the future.

"The behavior described in the Washington Post's latest story has no place in our franchise, or in our society," Snyder said. "While I was unaware of these allegations until they surfaced in the media, I take full responsibility for the culture of our organization. Even before today's article, I have begun taking any and all steps necessary to ensure that the Washington Football Team is an organization that is diverse, inclusive and respectful of all."

Snyder did not agree to an interview with The Post, and an NFL spokesperson did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

On Wednesday night, the Washington Football Team released a statement, saying:  "Today the Washington Post published an article detailing additional allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct at the Washington Football Team. We are deeply distressed by these terrible allegations and are committed to investigating them fully. Our priority is creating a culture where our employees - on and off the field - are respected and empowered.

"Our first concern is for the safety and security of our teammates, and we have encouraged any employees who have endured similar experiences, now or in the past, to report it immediately. We are already taking a series of additional steps to hold ourselves accountable to our communities. We remain focused on building an organization where all employees feel valued and are invested in shaping the new direction of our franchise."

The report comes a little more than a month after 17 women — including 15 former employees, and two media members — previously told The Post that they had been sexually harassed by members of Washington's front office. The team said at the time that it had retained D.C.-based law firm Wilkinson Walsh to review the reported allegations and the team's culture.

In Wednesday's report, one of the new allegations detailed by the newspaper involves "lewd outtakes" from cheerleader photo shoots in both 2008 and 2010, which included shots of exposed nipples. Former team employees told The Post the videos were compiled at the instruction of former senior vice president Larry Michael, who abruptly retired last month before being named in The Post's July story.

One unnamed employee claimed that Michael requested the footage from the 2010 shoot be loaded onto a DVD bearing the title "For Executive Meeting," according to the report. A second former employee, Brad Baker, told The Post he was present when Michael told staff members in 2008 to "get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD" for Snyder.

"Larry said something to the effect of, 'We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today,'" Baker told the newspaper, which obtained copies of both videos.

Michael denied those claims in an interview with The Post, saying in part that "I was never asked to nor did I ask someone to compile videos as you described."

Multiple cheerleaders told the newspaper that they were unaware that the lewd footage of them had been compiled.

Wednesday's report also details a 2017 "conduct policy" in which female employees were instructed to avoid "any football areas" while players were in the building, and an instance in which a former intern said she was told to avoid a male employee who had been sexually harassing her or end her internship early.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday that it will await the results of an ongoing investigation into Washington headed by attorney Beth Wilkinson, hired by Snyder and recommended by the league, before taking action.

​​​"We strongly condemn the unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior and workplace environment alleged in the report which is entirely inconsistent with our standards and has no place in the NFL," Goodell said.

"An independent investigation into these issues is in process, led by highly experienced counsel recommended by our office. We will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation and ensure that the club and its employees satisfy their obligation to give full cooperation to the investigators. If at any time the club or anyone associated with the club fails to do so, the investigating counsel has been asked to promptly advise our office and we will take appropriate action. When the investigation concludes, we will review the findings and take any appropriate action at that time."

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.