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Apr-25-2007 06:09printcomments

FBI Investigating Threating Letters about College Cheerleaders

The FBI believes that the author may be directly or indirectly involved in some element of cheerleading and/or the television production/coverage aspect of collegiate athletics.

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(PORTLAND) - The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are asking for the public's help in identifying the person or persons responsible for mailing dozens of unusual, threatening letters pertaining to the television coverage of collegiate football and basketball cheerleaders.

The letters were sent to various national networks and their local affiliates, as well as to various individuals in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and throughout the Midwest.

Multiple individuals associated with University Athletic Departments in Ohio, Michigan, and Arizona were amongst those receiving these letters.

Some of the letters contained various powder substances, which the FBI Laboratory determined was a potentially harmful insecticide. No one has been hurt to date. The initial batch of letters arrived in September 2004 with postmarks from Portland, Oregon; subsequent batches of letters were delivered between November 2006 and February 2007, primarily with postmarks from Seattle, Washington, but some also from Chicago, Illinois.

The FBI is releasing the following portions of two letters in the hopes that the public can help provide information as to the identity of the author:

"We are fed up with networks exploiting women in sports coverage. ABC/ESPN exploit collegiate and professional cheer squads in their coverage of football and basketball. They also screw WNBA players and WTA Tennis players. Compare coverage of cheer and dance squads based on their outfits they wear. Compare quality of shots, length of shots and number of shots Pigs park their cameras on us close up, front view, dozens of times each game, yet rarely ever show on TV in this manner, unless squads are wearing sweaters, jackets, under shirts, etc... Watch how they always zoom in on WNBA players shooting free throws then leave at the last second as she starts to shoot, disrupting the flow. Watch on ESPN how they will show women serve, close up, from every angle (side, back) EXCEPT when they zoom in close front, they will leave as she starts to serve, disrupting the flow. We have asked nicely for them to respect us and all women, yet they refuse. They exploit innocent people, so we will too. When they start respecting us, we stop mailing these out." (excerpt from September 2004 letter)

"For the past 6-7 years, ESPN and its nationwide networks have exploited cheer/dance teams all across the country. They do this by parking their TV cameras on these women for their own personal entertainment, but only give TV time to squads that wear long sleeved shirts, jackets, sweaters, etc. The squads that don't wear these types of outfits? They get EXPLOITED. For a long time we have warned ESPN the networks and several schools what would happen if this did not change. For the last 6 years, Ohio State cheerleaders have received more TV time than any other Division 1A cheer squad on ESPN, because they wear long sleeved red/white outfits. If they wore sleeveless outfits, they would not get ANY TV time. So, we are fed up with this constant exploitation." (excerpt from December 2006 letter)

These excerpts illustrate the unique nature of the author's grievance, the level of energy the author has devoted to this issue, and specific language used by the author FBI Portland office spokeswoman Beth Ann Steele said.

Members of the public may have come into contact with the author either in person or through some other forum, such as Internet postings.

The FBI believes that the author may be directly or indirectly involved in some element of cheerleading and/or the television production/coverage aspect of collegiate athletics.

A $5,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information leading to the identification of the individual(s) responsible for sending these letters.

Anyone with information pertaining to this matter is asked to contact their local FBI office or, nationally, toll free at (866) 915-829

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