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Ex-Rangers cheerleader says discrimination claim led to backlash

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Ex-Rangers cheerleader says discrimination claim led to backlash

The Canadian Press
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Courtney Prince said in an affidavit dated Wednesday that her MSG bosses asked her to deliver messages to other cheerleaders that included stuffing their bras, losing weight and looking more presentable.

"I tried to do so gently and respectfully, but I felt that I was being used to objectify the skaters and undermine their own sense of professionalism," she wrote.

Prince, 29, said MSG failed to properly protect the dozen skating cheerleaders from being touched inappropriately when they went into the crowd at games and required them to be glamorous and to wear padded bras, fake eyelashes and hairpieces.

The affidavit answers claims by MSG's lawyers last month in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where Prince sued the company in October 2004. She said she was fired that January after warning fellow cheerleaders that at least one member of management was a sexual predator.

MSG, in its court papers, accused Prince of "her own crass, sexualized behaviour."

Prince, the former captain of the Rangers' cheerleading squad, said in her court papers that she did not realize she had been fired for several months after she was told to go home for the last time.

"Then, little by little, I realized that I had committed the unforgivable sin of accusing MSG management of sexual harassment and that I had been fired," she said.

She accused MSG of turning many of her teammates, including longtime friends, into adversaries by "pumping them" for disparaging information about her and pressuring them into signing statements critical of her.

She said the disparaging remarks led to hyperactivity and deep depression, culminating in a nine-month stretch in 2004 when she spent much of her time in bed crying and thinking of death.

She said she sought professional help and started feeling better in 2005.

In a statement, MSG said Thursday: "Once again, not surprisingly, Ms. Prince has come up with a whole host of unfounded allegations. As we have stated all along on this matter, this case is baseless and without merit."

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recommended that MSG have its employees undergo sexual harassment discrimination training and pay Prince US$800,000 in damages.

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Ex-Rangers cheerleader says discrimination claim led to backlash