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Cheerleading letters stir investigation

Wed., April 25, 2007

PORTLAND – The FBI offered a $5,000 reward Tuesday for help finding whoever mailed dozens of threatening letters – including some containing a potentially harmful insecticide – complaining about TV coverage of college cheerleaders and professional female athletes.

The writer or writers complained that ESPN and ABC crews have exploited cheerleaders, WNBA players and WTA Tour players through certain camera angles, even though those angles were rarely shown on the air.

The FBI released excerpts of two letters in the hope of identifying who sent them.

“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,” an excerpt from one letter said.

“Pigs park their cameras on us close up, front view, dozens of times each game, yet rarely ever show on TV in this manner,” another excerpt read.

Investigators believe the author “may be directly or indirectly involved in some element of cheerleading and/or the television production/coverage aspect of collegiate athletics,” according to an FBI statement.

The letters were sent to national networks and their local affiliates, as well as people in states throughout the West and Midwest, according to the FBI office in Portland. Recipients also included people associated with university athletic departments in Ohio, Michigan and Arizona.

The initial batch of letters was postmarked in Portland and delivered in September 2004. Subsequent batches of letters were delivered between November 2006 and February, mostly with postmarks from Seattle, but some also were sent from Chicago, the FBI said.


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