Members of Congress stated Friday that the investigation into the sexual harassment of women by Washington's NFL team was not as independent of the league and the team.
The House Committee on Oversight and Reform published documents showing that the league and the team, , now called the Commanders, had agreed to pursue a joint legal strategy related to the probe.
After Dan Snyder, the owner of the team, initiated an investigation into the league, the league signed the private agreement. The agreement stipulated that all information resulting from the investigation would be treated as confidential and could not have been shared without the permission of the NFL or the team.
Brian McCarthy, a spokesperson for the NFL, stated in a Friday statement that it was the league and not the team who would decide what information could be released.
The committee found that Snyder and the team agreed that Beth Wilkinson's law firm would prepare a written report. However, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, requested that Wilkinson present her findings orally.
The investigation revealed a culture of sexual harassment, and abuse of female employees at the team. This confirms reports first reported by former employees who spoke with The Washington Post in 2020. Snyder was fined $10 million by the NFL and temporarily handed over control of the franchise's day-to-day operations to Tanya, his wife.
When it issued its punishment, the league claimed that no one known for mistreating women was still employed by them. However, former employee TiffaniJohnston contradicted that claim Thursday when Tiffani Johnston told Congress that Snyder had sexually harassed and harassed her. Snyder dismissed Johnston's claims, calling them "outright lies." However, the NFL stated that it will investigate this new allegation.
Jordan Siev, Snyder's lawyer, made a statement to the Commanders Friday in which he appeared to question Johnston’s motives for speaking up. He noted that Johnston left the team through a grateful and cheery resignation letter more than 13 years ago and that she didn't cooperate with the Wilkinson investigation.
In a Friday letter, the committee asked Goodell to release all findings from the Wilkinson investigation by February 14, and threatened "alternative means of obtaining compliance" for failure to cooperate.
The letter stated that the NFL had to explain to the committee why it gave the power to stop the release of investigation's findings to a target and why Ms. Wilkinson was instructed to reverse course and not submit a written report. "Most importantly, it is time for the NFL to stop its long-running efforts to conceal the truth about misconduct at (Washington Football Team), and to cooperate with the investigation.
Additionally, the committee stated that the league pulled out of its common-interest agreement in October with the team. This created a legal limbo that prevents Congress from requesting documents.
McCarthy stated that the NFL had cooperated with Congress, and will continue to do so.
McCarthy stated that the committee had requested documents that were clearly protected by attorney-client privileges or are work product of attorneys. "The league has the right to determine what information it can produce, but not the team," McCarthy stated.
Siev stated that Snyder and his team had not denied the committee access to documents not covered by the same privilege.
More than 40 lawyers representing former team employees claimed that Goodell deceived them.
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz stated that Goodell was not an honest broker in this investigation. "He was an active conspirator with Dan Snyder, and is now stonewalling Congress’ efforts to ensure accountability through making the Wilkinson results public."
Johnston and five other ex-employees of the Commanders franchise, who spoke to the committee on Thursday in a roundtable discussion. They shared their stories of being subject to sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior from team executives. They claimed that the toxic workplace culture was not being held responsible by the team.
Former employees and their lawyers also questioned why Snyder was able to purchase his ownership partners during the ongoing investigation.Date Of Update: 04 February 2022, 18:32