Former employees and cheerleaders for the NFL’s Washington Chiefs detailed their allegations against owner Dan Snyder on Capitol Hill Thursday, including asking the staff to compile lewd video clips of cheerleaders without their knowledge or consent, as well as a new claim of unwanted sexual contacts.
At a House Oversight Committee panel, former entertainer and marketing and events coordinator Tiffani Johnston accused Snyder of putting his hand on her thigh during a dinner and later pushing aggressively pushed her toward his limo with his hand on her lower back as she fended off his advances, a new allegation said.
A former video production manager alleged that he was asked to produce a lewd video featuring clips of nude cheerleaders from a photo shoot without their knowledge at Snyder’s request.
Jordan Siev, an attorney for Snyder, said the allegations first made this week are “false and have been categorically denied by Mr. Snyder.”
The House committee said Friday it requested more than 2,000 previously unreleased documents about “new concerns” about the NFL’s own investigation into Snyder in 2020.
Many of the above allegations were first detailed by The Washington Post in 2020, which also reported that the team paid a former employee $1.6 million in 2009 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Snyder , though neither Snyder nor the team acknowledged any wrongdoing in the deal.
Several former employees allege that for years, Snyder created a toxic environment of sexual abuse and harassment, where female employees were given tight clothing and faced lewd language and unwanted advances.
“Dan Snyder rules by fear,” former team marketing director Melanie Coburn told the panel.
Snyder responded to the allegations in a statement Thursday.
“While the previous conduct on the Team was unacceptable, the allegations made against me personally at today’s roundtable, many of which are more than 13 years old, are lies. I unequivocally deny having participated in any conduct of ‘this type, at any time and with respect to any person.
“Tanya and I will not be distracted by those with an agenda contrary to continuing the positive personnel and cultural changes that have been made to the team over the past 18 months, and which we continue to make both on and off the field .” Snyder said, referring to his wife, who was named co-CEO of the team last year.
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing the six witnesses who testified, as well as more than 40 former employees, said in a statement Thursday that the testimony was “an important first step in making the Washington football team and workplaces across the country be held accountable for the mistreatment of female workers.”
In 2020, the NFL conducted a year-long investigation into the Washington franchise’s work environment and last July fined Snyder $10 million.
The investigation concluded that Snyder was responsible for the club’s unprofessional and intimidating culture and that he failed to establish a respectful work environment. At the time, Snyder said in a statement that the workplace culture “wasn’t what it should be” and said he felt “great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while they worked here.”
But the league never released the full findings of the investigation. Several of the accusers have demanded that the full report be made public, calling the lack of transparency a “cover-up”.
Friday’s letter from the House Oversight and Reform Committee to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demanded that the league cooperate with the committee’s investigation and release the full findings of its internal investigation.
The move comes after documents obtained by the committee raised “new issues about the independence” of the NFL’s investigation, according to a news release.
The committee is asking for the additional documents by Feb. 14 and said if the league doesn’t comply, the committee will “consider alternative means of achieving compliance.”
An NFL spokesman confirmed Friday that the league received the letter and would review it. The spokesman said the league had been cooperating with the committee by sharing “nearly 80,000 pages of documents” and making others available for review and to answer questions.
“The Committee has requested many documents that are clearly protected by attorney-client privilege or are attorney work products,” the spokesman said. “The League, and not the team, has and will determine what information it is in a position to produce.”
Siev, Snyder’s attorney, said neither Snyder nor the team has ever done anything to prevent the committee from receiving documents “that are not expressly protected by the attorney-client privilege or the attorney’s work product “.
Attorneys Banks and Katz again called on the league to release the report in their statement Thursday, saying employees had participated in the investigation “based on the belief that the findings would be made public” and “would lead changes”.
“By keeping the findings of the investigation hidden, the NFL and the WFT (Washington Football Team) are attempting to silence these witnesses and avoid accountability,” the statement added. “It’s time for Congress to demand transparency and accountability.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct some of the allegations made against Snyder. Ms Johnston accused him of using his hand on her lower back to aggressively push her towards her limousine.