Miltenberg: “Northwestern Cheerleader Alleging Sexual Harassment Is Not Surprised by Hazing Scandal,” CBS News


CHICAGO (CBS) — As a Northwestern cheerleader, Hayden Richardson says the athletic department and others at the university turned a blind eye to her complaints of sexual harassment. More than two years later, as the fallout from the football team’s hazing allegations continues, Richardson says she is upset – but not surprised – to hear allegations that the school did not do enough to protect its athletes. Richardson spoke exclusively with CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey on Thursday. It has been more than two years since Richardson filed a federal lawsuit against Northwestern University – accusing the university of failing to take action when she reported repeated sexual harassment, and even assault, while on the cheerleading team. Richardson says that while her case should have changed the culture, school leaders continue “shaming and silencing survivors.” “They looked at us and said: ‘Well, what do you expect? You’re a cheerleader. Isn’t this part of the job?'” Richardson said. That job, according to Richardson – who cheered for Northwestern starting in 2018 – was to be presented as “sex objects” at alumni events in order to appease wealthy donors. “Those different kinds of events looked like us going into the parking lot four hours before a football game started – with Northwestern knowing that we were going to be sexually harassed and sexually assaulted in the parking lots,” she said. We spoke to Richardson from Washington, D.C., where she now lives – and she described the constant groping and sexualized comments. She complained to her coach, then the associate athletic director, and was told to get evidence to prove her case. So Richardson got statements from teammates saying the same thing – but was accused of fabricating evidence. She filed a 58-page federal lawsuit in 2021. “[T]heir positions on the team were conditioned on pleasing and being groped by wealthy older men and intoxicated fans for the purpose of encouraging donations to the University and supporting Northwestern Football,” the suit reads.

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