BOSTON — Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, delivered on his promise of a major announcement on Thursday. Racine announced that the district has filed a lawsuit against Dan Snyder, Roger Goodell, the Washington commanders and the National Football League.
The crux of the matter is that the NFL’s “independent” investigation into the Washington Redskins/Football Team/Commanders work culture was essentially a grand cover-up that protected the interests of Snyder and the league as a whole. Or, as the complaint itself states, the lawsuit was filed for “public misrepresentation, omission, and ambiguity of material facts, all of which violate the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).”
The lawsuit says that after the NFL took over the investigation into the toxic culture within the Washington organization, the league and team entered into a “mutual interest agreement.”
“[The] Common Interest Agreement (Agreement) which established their common legal interest in maintaining ‘the integrity of the investigation and the defense of reasonably anticipated litigation,'” the lawsuit said. “It permitted the sharing of confidential information and communications and other privileged information between them and with Wilkinson’s company. In addition, the agreement granted the team and Snyder the ability to block the publication of any “information or communication” that resulted, including what the public would eventually learn of Wilkinson’s findings. Further, the NFL entered into this agreement with full knowledge of the allegations of widespread sexual harassment and misconduct that had been attached to Snyder and the team for years.
Sure enough, after attorney Beth Wilkinson’s 10-month investigation, the NFL has not released any public findings, opting instead to announce a punishment for Snyder without releasing any details of the investigation.
The full complaint is 45 pages long and can be read online. It’s full of mind-boggling accusations – some of which have already been reported, some of which have not. Among them:
The lawsuit alleges that Dan Snyder proposed to a cheerleader to have sex with his friend.
“Another former squad cheerleader alleges that Snyder proposed to her to have sex with his friend at a party in 2004. At the time of the incident, the cheerleader reported the Snyder’s misconduct to the team’s director of cheerleading and the cheerleading team’s marketing director, he was simply advised to avoid Snyder for the rest of the night. Because Snyder owned the team. , she didn’t think she could do more about her comment, and she didn’t report it publicly until 2020.”
The lawsuit alleges that Dan Snyder’s response to a coach groping an employee was telling that employee to avoid that coach.
“Similarly, when Snyder was told that a member of the coaching staff had groped an employee, Snyder refused to do anything about it. Instead, he ordered the victim to ‘stay away from the coach’.”
The lawsuit repeats a Washington Post report that team employees filmed cheerleaders in a state of stripping and created a video for Snyder to a soundtrack of his favorite songs.
“When schedule shoots were filmed, the cameras often recorded continuously, despite requests from the cheerleaders not to film certain portions. These videos often captured nudity, as the cheerleaders posed topless or bare, and the recordings captured the body painting process. This footage was often taken without the cheerleaders’ knowledge or consent. Subsequently, Snyder instructed team leaders to ask employees and subs -contractors to edit videos together using footage of the cheerleaders from the schedule shoots, including footage that the cheerleaders had specifically requested not to be filmed.that these videos include the “good bits”, that the producers took this to mean unedited footage of the cheerleaders’ exposed breasts and pubic areas.These voyeuristic videos were allegedly recorded with Snyder’s favorite songs and given ed directly to Snyder.
The lawsuit alleges that Snyder fired two cheerleaders after a case of sexual misconduct involving a player.
“In another episode, Snyder was made aware of sexual misconduct between a player and two cheerleaders. In response, Snyder blamed the victims, ordering the cheerleaders fired to ‘minimize distractions, temptations for the players “. There were no consequences for the player.”
The lawsuit alleges that Snyder bullied male employees if they did not participate in the workplace culture.
“As an example of Snyder’s direct harassment of employees, Snyder bullied male employees and questioned their sexual orientation when they did not conform to Snyder’s perception of manhood.”
The lawsuit alleges an employee felt comfortable engaging in sexual harassment because he was hired by Snyder.
“At least one such report of sexual harassment was emailed to Snyder and other executives directly by a female chef. She detailed an incident in which the team’s head chef, after noticing that the female chef had changed clothes by her locker, said in front of other staff, “I wish I had known, I would have followed you there. Do you know the last time I had sex?” She specifically noted that she was afraid to report the incident because the head chef bragged about being untouchable because Snyder hired him. .”
The lawsuit alleges that Snyder kept female employees in the basement of his vacation home while the male employees/executives were upstairs with “sex workers.”
“One such event occurred at Snyder’s vacation home in Aspen, Colorado, in 2005 or 2006. After entertaining several employees at a nightclub, Snyder drove them back to his vacation home, and the female employees were escorted to the basement for the rest of the night while the male employees remained upstairs. At one point, Snyder came downstairs wearing only a bathrobe and offered champagne to the women. That same night, a female employee went upstairs and saw a naked woman massaging a male team executive and saw another woman wearing only a bathrobe coming out of Snyder’s room.The employees didn’t know these women and thought they were Because they had traveled on Snyder’s plane out of state, despite their discomfort with the behavior of the executives, these employees felt trapped.”
The lawsuit alleges Daniel Snyder intimidated witnesses as part of the NFL’s investigation into team work culture.
“Snyder and the team sent private investigators to witnesses’ homes and intimidated them, engaged in abusive lawsuits to prevent witnesses from participating, and offered extra money to former employees who had already settled claims. against Snyder.”
“Witnesses reported that the PIs frightened and discouraged them from participating in the Wilkinson investigation or speaking out publicly against Snyder, and they were afraid that Snyder would find other ways to harm or harm them. intimidate them.”
“A private investigator waited outside a witness’s house for hours, showed up for several days, and also harassed his neighbors. When the witness finally spoke with the private investigator, he told him that the team l “had sent to speak to him. This witness then said that he was afraid. for his own safety and that of his children. Another witness said that she was certain that the PIs had been sent by Snyder because they were posing pointed questions about a former executive whom Snyder had tried to blame for the misconduct.
The lawsuit alleges that Daniel Snyder offered financial payments to prevent witnesses from participating in Wilkinson’s investigation into the team’s work culture.
“Snyder attempted to pay the witness who alleged that Snyder assaulted her in 2009 a substantial additional sum, beyond the amount paid in the original settlement, to prevent him from discussing the incident with Wilkinson. , Snyder offered financial settlements to another group of former employees who had accused Snyder and team leaders of harassment and misconduct Snyder offered money to at least one employee in exchange for his silence in the investigation. Another said: ‘It was like they wanted to bury it and shut us up.'”
The lawsuit alleges the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about but downplayed the impact of Daniel Snyder’s interference in the investigation.
“The NFL was aware of Snyder’s attempted interference with the investigation, but allowed it to proceed and downplayed its significance. companies’, while publicly guaranteeing that he did not interfere with Wilkinson’s work.”
“Even armed with knowledge of Snyder’s efforts to intimidate witnesses and attempt to obstruct the Wilkinson investigation, the NFL did nothing to stop them. On the contrary, the NFL allowed Snyder to maintain complete control over investigation for weeks, then entered into the Agreement with the team for continued access, including access to information that would allow it to target additional witnesses.”
The lawsuit alleges that when Roger Goodell said the league did not know details of the investigation while it was ongoing, he was not telling the truth.
“The NFL received its first briefing from the Wilkinson team before resuming the investigation, in late August 2020. Throughout the investigation, the Wilkinson Company has regularly briefed the NFL General Counsel’s Office on its Although it was read, the NFL feigned ignorance. In February 2021, at a press conference, Goodell said that Wilkinson was “almost done” with her job, but that he would not ‘had not yet met. He pledged that once he received the results of his investigation, he would share them with the team ‘and others.’ By the end of February 2021, the NFL already had detailed and important information about the team’s toxic culture, widespread sexual harassment, and Snyder’s role in it all.”
The lawsuit says the NFL allowed Daniel Snyder to obtain 100% ownership of the team before the Wilkinson investigation was completed.
“With this background, and after the NFL pledged to ‘take any action based on the findings’ at the conclusion of the Wilkinson investigation, the League demonstrated that it had no intention of holding Snyder liable. Instead, just weeks after Goodell received his first of two oral briefings from Wilkinson, the NFL chose to make an exception to its rules regarding the amount of debt a team owner can have to allow Snyder to buy out three minority owners, giving him even more power and control around the League, rather than waiting for the outcome of the Wilkinson inquiry to ensure Snyder was fit to continue owning the team. , the NFL allowed Snyder and his family to consolidate 100% ownership of the team.When the investigation concluded, the defendants worked together to keep consumers in the dark, under the guise of their OK. “
These allegations are just that — allegations. But Racine expressed his desire to share evidence with the public when he spoke on Thursday.
“This trial will continue, there will be accountability until it is settled,” Racine said. “And if it’s settled, we’ll tell you everything we find.”
Naturally, both the NFL and the commanders released statements in response to the lawsuit.
“We agree with A.G. Racine on one thing: the public needs to know the truth,” said the statement from attorneys John Brownlee and Stuart Nash’s commanding officers. “Although the lawsuit repeats many innuendos, half-truths and lies, we welcome this opportunity to defend the organization – for the first time – in court and to establish, once and for all, what which is fact and what is fiction.”
The NFL statement defended the investigative process while calling the allegations “baseless.”
“We reject the legally unfounded and factually baseless allegations made today by the D.C. Attorney General against the NFL and Commissioner Goodell and we will vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations,” the NFL statement read.
It will be difficult to predict how the process will unfold. Still, Racine’s behavior on Thursday indicated he’s not taking the matter lightly, and he hopes to at least publicize the details the NFL apparently sought to suppress after the 10-month investigation. The NFL and commanders thought this case was largely over, but Thursday’s lawsuit indicates there’s a long way to go before it all goes away.