BY: KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC NEWS
(NEW YORK) — The NFL addressed sexual harassment and verbal abuse allegations against the league’s Washington D.C. team in a tweet Friday morning.
The response from the league came less than 24 hours after a new report by The Washington Post that claimed fifteen women, who previously worked for the NFL organization, have alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former scouts and members of owner Daniel Snyder’s “inner circle.”
“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 NFL said in the statement.
“Washington has engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. The club has pledged that it will give its full cooperation to the investigator and we expect the club and all employees to do so,” the league continued.
The league added that it “will meet with the attorneys upon the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on the findings.”
Emily Applegate, who started working for the team in 2014 told the Washington Post that the former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman, launched “expletive-laced tirades” and also explained her allegations on “Good Morning America” Friday.
“I, in my time there, dealt with a lot of verbal harassment sexually and not sexually,” Applegate said. “So not only was I being hit on, but I also was being just berated and spoken down to, degraded on a daily basis.”
While there were no allegations against the team owner, Snyder released a statement Friday after the Post said he and former general manager Bruce Allen declined several interview requests.
“The behavior described in yesterday’s Washington Post article has no place in our franchise or society,” Snyder said, according to ESPN. “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 [Ron] Rivera earlier this year.”
Three people who the paper cited as accused of misconduct departed the team within the past week; longtime radio play-by-play announcer and senior vice president Larry Michael, former director of pro personnel Alex Santos and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II.
Others named, according to the Post, include former president of business operations Dennis Greene and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman. The allegations spanned from 2006 to 2009.
The team has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson and her firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP “to conduct a thorough independent review of this matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future,” it said in a statement to the Post.
Wilkinson previously represented the NFL in a suit that challenged the league’s Sunday Ticket Package and successfully represented Major League Baseball and the NCAA in class-action suits. She also assisted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process in addressing allegations of sexual misconduct.
The allegations against Washington follow the team’s announcement Monday to change its name and logo after a review launched July 3.
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