Attorneys 'Disturbed' by Report of Dan Snyder Attempting to Disrupt NFL's WFT Probe

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder, walking off the field before the start of an NFL football game against Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Attorneys representing 40 former employees of the Washington Football Team are "disturbed" by reports that team owner Dan Snyder enlisted attorneys and private investigators to interfere with an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment within the organization.

Will Hobson and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post reported on the alleged interference, and attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz released a statement in response:

"We are disturbed but not surprised by the Washington Post's most recent reporting about the Washington Football Team's efforts to obstruct the NFL's investigation into its decades long culture of harassment and abuse. We have been aware for some time of the use of private investigators and the courts to intimidate witnesses and have reported these concerns directly to the NFL and the NFL investigators. Now that the Washington Post has painstakingly chronicled this misconduct, it is even more imperative that the NFL be made to answer for its lack of action and its failure to hold the Washington Football Team and its owner accountable. We are hopeful that the House Oversight and Reform Committee will remain committed to seeking all information from the NFL related to the WFT investigation and will uncover why the NFL has sought to protect Dan Snyder at all costs."

Hobson and Clarke reported attorney Beth Wilkinson, who was initially hired by the Football Team to conduct the investigation and was retained by the NFL when it assumed control of the proceedings, wanted to speak to the woman who accused Snyder of sexual misconduct in 2009.

Then-team general counsel David Donovan investigated and alleged the woman fabricated the allegations. However, when the woman's lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, threatened to sue, the two sides reached a $1.6 million settlement agreement.

The latest report from the Washington Post noted Snyder's attorneys tried to stop Wilkinson from speaking to the woman. What's more, Sullivan said the lawyers offered more than the $1.6 million agreed to in the settlement if Snyder's accuser didn't speak about the allegations.

Sullivan said Snyder's lawyers tried to "silence" his client, although the attorneys denied attempting to prevent Wilkinson from speaking with the woman.

Hobson and Clarke also reported that "private investigators working on Snyder's behalf, meanwhile, showed up uninvited at the homes of several former employees or contacted their friends and relatives, according to these former employees or their attorneys—acts many of them viewed as intimidation aimed at discouraging former employees from participating in the NFL’s investigation."

This all comes as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not publicly released the findings of the investigation into the Football Team.

In October, Clarke reported multiple House Democrats called for more transparency from the NFL, asking Goodell to provide "all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners, and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation."

The investigation made headlines earlier this NFL season when emails Jon Gruden sent to former Football Team President Bruce Allen revealed the former Las Vegas Raiders head coach made racist, misogynistic and anti-gay comments.

Gruden's emails were just some of the 650,000 the investigation reviewed. The former coach has since resigned.

While the NFL fined the Washington organization $10 million and had Snyder step away from the day-to-day functions associated with the team, he is still in his position as owner and has largely escaped individual punishment related to the investigation.