A sixth woman has joined a class-action lawsuit against the Houston Texans, alleging mistreatment while a member of the team’s cheerleading squad. Her case adds to the growing book of horror stories being shared by women who wanted to dance and cheer for their favorite team, and instead were treated horribly by coaches and other franchise executives.
Texans-logo duct tape
In a news conference, Angelina Rosa alleged that the Texans’ cheerleading coach, Alto Gary, often belittled and body-shamed her, calling her “skinny-fat,” which Gary used to describe someone who was thin but not well-toned.
Rosa recalled that before heading onto the field one game day, Gary kept her back, threatening to cut her from the team.
“Before I knew it, Texans logo duct tape was found and I heard, ‘This will hurt a bit,’ as I watched my skin being pulled stretched and taped,” Rosa said.
Texans-logo duct tape? What great team branding!
Rosa felt “humiliated and ashamed of my own body,” and as she performed with the tape binding her, her skin under it became sweaty and irritated.
“My skin was being torn,” she said.
In a New York Times story last month, a former Texans alternate cheerleader named Jackie Chambers mentioned Gary’s verbal and emotional abuse, sharing the story of an occasion when Gary had duct-taped a woman’s midsection; presumably, that woman was Rosa.
(Alternate cheerleaders are women who served as ambassadors during games, wearing the customary uniform and meeting fans, giving away prizes but not dancing on-field.)
Survived off popcorn and water
In an effort to please cheerleading team leaders, Rosa said she worked out twice a day, three or four times a week, and in an effort to lose weight had just water and popcorn.
The mistreatment was devastating for Rosa. She said she’d dreamed of becoming a cheerleader since she was a little girl, after seeing them when her father took her to sporting events.
“I wanted to be a leader and a role model to the young girls that I once was,” she said.
Allred said she amended the lawsuit and re-filed it on Friday morning, adding Rosa and additional claims, including “assault, which this is.”
‘Reminded that they were replaceable’
The lawsuit against the Texans was filed in federal court in Houston this month; attorney Gloria Allred, who often tackles cases of women’s rights and mistreatment, said that there was a “culture of fear” on the cheerleading squad, and that the women were often reminded that were replaceable.
Chambers said once while in the stands at NRG Stadium for a giveaway, a fan touched rubbed his hand on her crotch; she told team officials and police, but nothing was done.
While cheerleaders made just $7.25 an hour, the suit alleges that they weren’t compensated for appearances, including overseas trips, nor were they given stipends for food during work trips.
The lead plaintiff, known as P.G.G. in court documents, alleges that she was required to be on call 24/7, had to respond to emails from the coach within 10 minutes, sign thousands of calendars, and send frequent updates through her team-owned Twitter page year-round; women were not paid for any of these tasks.
The lawsuit against the Texans organization seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
NFL cheerleading sounds like so much fun, kids!