NYT alleges mistreatment of Redskins cheerleaders on 2013 photo shoot

Chris Lingebach
May 02, 2018 - 5:33 pm
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The Redskins have come under question for alleged mistreatment of their cheerleaders in a New York Times article, published Wednesday, citing five former cheerleaders' accounts of a 2013 calendar shoot.

According to The Times, while in Costa Rica in 2013, after several cheerleaders were asked to go topless for the shoot, a "contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots."

Later that evening, The Times says, nine of the 36 cheerleaders were asked to accompany several of the male sponsors to a nightclub.

"They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go," one of the cheerleaders said. "We weren't asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what she was doing."

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.

In a statement, the Redskins told The Times: "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."

The team declined to address a series of questions 106.7 The Fan sent for follow-up, and instead referred to their previously written statement to The New York Times.

Stephanie Jojokian, Director and Choreographer of the Redskins cheerleaders, disputed "much of the women’s description of the Costa Rica trip," The Times says. "She vehemently denied that the night at the club was mandatory and said that the cheerleaders who went were not chosen by sponsors."

"I was not forcing anyone to go at all," Ms. Jojokian said. "I'm the mama bear, and I really look out for everybody, not just the cheerleaders. It's a big family. We respect each other and our craft. It's such a supportive environment for these ladies."

(...)

"It breaks my heart because I'm a mom and I've done this for a long time," she said. "Where is this coming from? I would never put a woman in a situation like that. I actually mentor these women to be strong and to speak up, and it kills me to hear that."

Redskins.com has removed an online feature mentioned in the story -- "hot or not," which allows fans to rate Redskins cheerleaders -- in the hours since the story went public.

Find the full New York Times article here.

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