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A former cheerleader at the centre of a damning investigation into the workplace culture of Washington Football Team (WFT) has condemned the NFL for refusing to release full results of the probe.
Former Washington Football Team (WFT) employee Melanie Coburn last week crashed the NFL owners meeting in New York, where she hand-delivered letters urging the league to release its findings — which she alleges contain a history of “serial sexual harassment and assault” within the WFT under owner Dan Snyder.
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However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell revealed the league would not release the full findings of the investigation because of individuals requesting anonymity.
Coburn - one of several former WFT employees to have accused the franchise of workplace harassment, discrimination, and abuse - labelled it a "cowardly" move from the NFL commissioner.
“I think it’s completely false. Using us and our anonymity to shield the NFL is just a very cowardly thing to do,” she told Fox News.
Lawyers representing more than 40 former WFT employees informed the NFL commissioner that their clients did not want "protection" from the league if it meant withholding the findings of the report.
“The really frustrating part,” said attorney Lisa Banks, who represents more than three dozen of the women who alleged sexual harassment and mistreatment while working for the Washington organisation, “is that the commissioner is trying to present himself as the champion of all the people who came forward, that he’s doing it to protect them.
“What he’s really doing is acting in a cowardly fashion and hiding behind those very same people. They want the report released and were very open about that,” Banks added.
“He’s protecting someone, but it’s certainly not them.”
Coburn added: “There are ways to release reports with names redacted, and if there’s any delicate matters they can go through and withhold some of that information.
“It’s been done, it’s done all the time, and it’s unfortunate that they are using that.”
WFT accusers Coburn and Ana Nunez appeared at last week's owners meeting to hand deliver a letter asking members of the NFL's Social Justice Working Group to push for the release of the findings of the investigation into Washington.
WFT accusers Melanie Coburn and Ana Nunez are at the owners meeting telling their story, and hand-delivering this letter to owners. They were a part of the investigation. pic.twitter.com/gwn5fORwSB
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 26, 2021
"The NFL should not be allowed to encourage employees to come forward at great personal risk to speak to investigators, only to sweep the results of that investigation under the rug," the letter reads.
That investigation was triggered after multiple damning Washington Post reports revealed decades of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse at the Washington Football Team, primarily directed at female employees and cheerleaders.
Workplace culture allegedly 'encouraged' by Daniel Snyder
The investigation, which concluded over the summer, resulted in owner Daniel Snyder paying a fine and turning over day-to-day operations of the club to his wife, Tanya, for an undefined amount of time.
No formal report of the investigation was ever released, no details were made public beyond those in a press release, and no one else was publicly punished.
However, the investigation resulted in the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.
Over a period of more than five years, Gruden and former Washington GM Bruce Allen exchanged emails that contained numerous racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay remarks.
Those emails were discovered as part of the Washington investigation, since Allen wrote those messages using his work email. Gruden did not work for the NFL at that time.
Snyder got off light as far as punishment, but Coburn told Breer that the WFT owner "encouraged" the abusive, misogynistic culture of the team.
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The letter ends with an emphatic statement about what the NFL is saying by refusing to release a report of the investigation. If they're not willing to publicly reckon with abuse at the highest levels of NFL leadership, why did they bother investigating at all?
"If the NFL discloses the results of the investigation and takes meaningful steps to address the underlying problems, that will send the message that the League does not tolerate misogyny and abuse.
"To date, the League has sent the opposite message. By failing to disclose the findings of the investigation, and by ignoring calls to do so by WFT employees, lawyers, activists, and most recently Congress, the League is communicating that it is more interested in protecting wealthy owners and preserving misogynist and abusive structures than in reckoning with its cultural problems."
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