Report: Ex-WFT Lawyer Tried to Get Documents in Dan Snyder Misconduct Case Destroyed

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IISeptember 9, 2021

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2021, file photo, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder walks on the field prior to an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Landover, Md. Twenty female former Washington Football Team employees are calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to release the final report of an independent investigation into the organization's conduct. The employees and their lawyers sent letters to Goodell on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, making the request. Snyder hired Beth Wilkinson to investigate in July after former employees made allegations of workplace sexual harassment. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File

A lawyer who previously worked as general counsel for the Washington Football Team reportedly sued Beth Wilkinson, who led the NFL's investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, mistreatment and verbal abuse within the franchise, in an attempt to get documents related to a former female team employee's 2009 sexual misconduct allegation against WFT owner Dan Snyder destroyed.

Per Will Hobson of the Washington Post, those documents were released Wednesday, but they were either heavily or entirely redacted. Wilkinson had attempted to make those documents public, leading to the legal fight.

The lawyer in question is David Donovan, who reportedly oversaw the team's investigation into the 2009 allegation, which was said to occur on Snyder’s private plane. The team and former employee settled out of court for $1.6 million, per Hobson, Beth Reinhard and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post.

The alleged misconduct reportedly occurred on a flight back from the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.

Court records showcasing a dispute between Snyder and his business partners reveal that the latter group called the allegation "a serious accusation of sexual misconduct."

Per Hobson, Snyder called the allegations "meritless" and that he agreed to the seven-figure settlement at the behest of the team's insurance carrier.

In July 2020, Hobson and Clarke spoke with over a dozen women who said they were sexually harassed and/or verbally abused by team employees.

That report led to the NFL's investigation. The league eventually fined WFT $10 million.

"Based on Wilkinson's review, the Commissioner concluded that for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional," a league statement read.

"Bullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace."

Per the statement, Snyder acknowledged that he was responsible for the team's culture as its owner.