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Cheerleaders for the NFL's Washington Redskins say that their team forced them to pose topless for men while serving as "escorts."
What are the details of the allegations?
According to a Wednesday New York Times report, some of the team's cheerleaders alleged that Redskins officials invited sponsors to be entertained while cheerleaders posed topless or were slathered in body paint during a 2013 calendar photo shoot.
The Times reported that the topless images were not featured in the calendar.
The shoot took place during a weeklong Costa Rica trip, and the cheerleaders reportedly were told to serve as personal escorts to the team's sponsors and suite holders during the same trip.
The Times reported that the incidents occurred at Costa Rica's Occidental Grand Papagayo resort, where "a contingent of sponsors and FedEx Field suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots."
What did the cheerleaders say?
One cheerleader told the Times, "At one of my friend’s shoots, we were basically standing around her like a human barricade because she was basically naked, so we could keep the guys from seeing her. I was getting so angry that the guys on the trip were skeezing around in the background."
Another cheerleader alleged, "One evening, at the end of a 14-hour day that included posing and dance practices, the squad’s director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders that their work was not done. They had a special assignment for the night."
That "special assignment?" According to the cheerleader's account, "Some of the male sponsors had picked [those cheerleaders] to be personal escorts at a nightclub."
"'Get back to your room and get ready,'" the director reportedly told the cheerleaders, a command that reportedly left several women in tears.
One of the cheerleaders told the Times that the team's higher-ups "weren't putting a gun to our heads," but made it clear that it was mandatory the cheerleaders comply with their demands.
"We weren’t asked, we were told," she explained.
Several of the team's cheerleaders said that the team's personal escort arrangement made the cheerleaders feel as if the team was "pimping them out," but noted that sex was not at all involved.
According to the report, several cheerleaders decided against returning to the team the following year.
What did the Redskins cheerleader director say?
Stephanie Jojokian, the Redskins' cheerleaders director and choreographer "vehemently denied" the allegations about the night in question.
"I was not forcing anyone to go at all," 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."
What did the team say?
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."
A spokesperson for the NFL issued a statement that said that the league's office "has no role in how the clubs which have cheerleaders utilize them."
The statement added, "Our office will work with our clubs in sharing best practices and employment-related processes that will support club cheerleading squads within an appropriate and supportive workplace."
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