Who is Hayden Richardson? Northwestern cheerleader says she was 'presented as young sex kitten' to wealthy donors
The former university cheerleader added that members of her team were 'presented as sex objects to titillate the men that funded the majority of Northwestern’s athletics programs'
A former cheerleader from Northwestern University’s cheerleading team has filed a lawsuit against the University on Friday, January 29, in which she alleged that members of her team were "presented as sex objects to titillate the men that funded the majority of Northwestern’s athletics programs".
This description was part of a 58-page complaint she filed in Federal court. She also added that Pam Bonnevier, the team's head coach, required the outfit to mingle with "wealthy" donors who made "sexually-charged comments".
In a copy of her lawsuit obtained by The Chicago Tribune, Richardson said the donors groped her, touched her breasts and buttocks over her uniform. She also added the university "forced its cheerleaders to behave in a degrading and demeaning manner intended to entice and captivate wealthy donors".
Who is Hayden Richardson?
According to reports, the 22-year-old was a 2019 Miss Nebraska entrant. She cheered for the school from 2018 to 2020. She signed up for the team before moving to Evanston in the fall of 2018. Richardson had sent clips of her stunts to Bonnevier and was then accepted to the team. The cheerleader has transferred to Northwestern after finishing her freshman year at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She had a background in gymnastics and cheerleading.
"This is not the highlight, by any means, of my life or time at Northwestern but it is certainly the most impactful," the 22-year-old Richardson said, according to the New York Post. In her complaint, Richardson added she felt "trapped" and said, non-compliance would see her kicked out of the team, losing her scholarship, and was forced to repay the expenses incurred when she was in the squad. She also alleged the athletic department mishandled Richardson's complaints.
She added she was encouraged to "present herself as a new, young sex kitten for Northwestern to exploit and objectify for the University’s financial gain."
The aftermath of the incident
Northwestern, on its part, did not comment on the lawsuit filed by Richardson. However, it did say "it is committed to fostering an environment in which all members of our community are safe, secure and free from discrimination or harassment of any form” and that “reports of discrimination or harassment are confidential in order to protect the individuals involved." In her statement, she also added she was offered alcohol although she was underage in 2018-19.
Bonnevier has stopped working with the university since October with reasons behind the departure unknown. That she was no longer employed by Northwestern was confirmed by the University to The Chicago Tribune.
"While there have been extreme detriments and times where I was very sad and hurt by the actions of the university, I am here, I am bringing the lawsuit forward,” Richardson told the outlet. "And I’m going to do what is necessary to ensure other young women don’t experience the same thing that I did."