WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) – Just one day after members of congress hosted a roundtable discussion with six former Washington NFL employees, who brought forth new allegations of sexual harassment against team owner Dan Snyder, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has given a February 14th deadline on the league, and the team to turn over all documents related to the investigation.
The House Committee says they have obtained documents that showed the NFL and the now-Washington Commanders agreed to pursue a “joint legal strategy” related to the investigation into the team; which would give team owner Dan Snyder the power to decide if he wants to release the information or not.
“You have claimed that the NFL did not release Ms. Wilkinson’s findings in order to protect the ‘security, privacy and anonymity’ of the more than 150 witnesses who courageously spoke to Ms. Wilkinson and her team. The Committee’s investigation and the NFL’s own legal documents raise serious doubts about this justification,” the Chairs of the committee wrote in their letter to NFL commission, Roger Goodell. “At a Committee roundtable yesterday, victims of sexual harassment and misconduct at the WFT also dismissed this excuse as unfounded, and urged the NFL to release the investigative findings.”
The private agreement between the Washington Football Team, and Wilkinson Walsh LLP, Beth Wilkinson’s firm, was signed just days after the league said it had taken over an investigation of the team. It stipulated that any information exchanged as a result of the investigation was privileged and could not be shared without the consent of both the NFL and the team.
“Under this agreement, the NFL may not have been able to release the results of the Wilkinson investigation to the public without the permission of team owner Daniel Snyder—who himself has been accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct by his employees” as pointed out in the letter from the committee.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Friday that the league, and not the team, would determine what information from the investigation could be released.
“The committee has requested many documents which are clearly protected by the attorney-client privilege or are attorney work product,” McCarthy said. “The league, and not the team, has and will determine which information it is in a position to produce.”
The committee also found that the team and Snyder agreed that attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm, which conducted the investigation, would produce a written report, but that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asked Wilkinson to present her findings to him orally instead.
The investigation found a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment of female employees of the team, confirming reports that first emerged when former employees spoke to The Washington Post in 2020. The NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder temporarily ceded day-to-day control of the franchise to his wife, Tanya.
The league claimed when issuing its punishment that none of those known to have mistreated women was still employed by the team, but former employee Tiffany Johnston contradicted that claim, when she told Congress that Snyder sexually harassed her.
Snyder denied Johnston’s allegations, calling them “outright lies.”
In a statement released by the Commanders on Friday, Snyder’s attorney, Jordan Siev, questioned Johnston’s motives for speaking out, noting that she left the team “through a thankful and cheery resignation note more than 13 years ago” and that she did not cooperate with the Wilkinson investigation.
“Regarding today’s letter from the Committee to the NFL, neither Mr. Snyder nor the team has ever done anything to block the Committee from receiving any documents it has requested from the NFL that are not expressly protected by attorney-client privilege or attorney work product.”, according to the statement from Jordan Siev.
Lawyers representing more than 40 former team employees said Goodell had deceived their clients.
“Goodell was anything but an honest broker when it came to this investigation,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement. “He was an active co-conspirator with Dan Snyder and is now carrying his water in stonewalling Congress’ efforts to ensure accountability by making the results of the Wilkinson report public.”
Johnston and five other former employees of the newly renamed Commanders franchise spoke to the committee in a roundtable discussion on Thursday, detailing their experiences of being subjected to sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by team executives. They said the team has not been held accountable for its toxic workplace culture.
The former employees and their attorneys also have questioned why the league allowed Snyder to buy out his ownership partners while the investigation was ongoing.