Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder was charged with sexually harassing and assaulting a former team employee in 2009, after which the team paid her $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement, according to a new report.
Washington post report On Tuesday, the woman told the team that Snyder allegedly wooed, groped and tried to undress her on a private flight back from Las Vegas in April 2009.
Snyder denied the allegations — which his legal team called “baseless” in a 2020 court filing, saying the payment was made only at the request of an insurance company — but the bombshell hit NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will testify remotely before the committee ahead of Wednesday’s House Oversight and Reform hearing. Snyder declined a request to appear at the hearing, citing concerns about format and previous business-related conflicts.
It marks the second time Snyder has been directly accused of sexual misconduct since former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffany Johnston told lawmakers in February that congressional bosses touched her thighs under the table and tried to force her into his limousine. It happened at a work dinner in 2005 or 2006, she said.
The latest allegation comes after the Washington Post received a letter detailing the allegations in a legal letter from the team’s outside attorney and the woman’s attorney.
The letter seeks to discredit the woman’s allegations and cites an investigation by team attorney David Donovan that contradicts those claims. Former employees of the plane told Donovan that they did notice signs of attack or distress during the flight, the letter said. According to the Washington Post, Donovan “cited the plane’s compact configuration and quiet engine” and concluded that the woman fabricated the attack.
The letter also alleges that the woman tried to blackmail the team, noting that she had previously been informed that she would not receive expected bonuses from the team, and that she sent her husband an email complaining about a credit card balance of more than $35,000. According to the letter, Donovan received mixed accounts from the woman about her attack — saying she changed details of Snyder’s behavior three times. Donovan also reportedly questioned the woman’s behavior, such as wearing “sexually provocative” clothing and her behavior at work.
According to the letter, the woman claimed Snyder had her sit with him in the back seat of the plane, which had six other passengers. The woman claimed she pushed Snyder away to stop the alleged attack, the letter said.
The commanders, then known as the Redskins, continued to hand out seven-figure payments to the woman to avoid her filing a lawsuit in July 2009 or publicly disclosing the allegations.
The existence of the team’s settlement with the woman was first reported in December 2020. However, the exact details of her allegations were not known until now.
Beth Wilkinson, the attorney leading the NFL’s investigation of the commanding officer, interviewed Snyder’s accusers as part of her investigation, The Washington Post reported.
Wilkinson’s investigation ended last summer when the league released a summary of its findings and fined the team $10 million for misconduct. The league has been criticized for not releasing a written report on the Wilkinson investigation. Backlash led to Congress getting involved.
Wilkinson reportedly clashed with Snyder’s former attorney, Donovan, who no longer works for the team, during the investigation. Donovan filed a lawsuit seeking to bar the attorney from “disclosing any information about the 2009 investigation or settlement in her final report to the NFL,” according to the Washington Post.
It is unclear whether the commander informed the NFL of the woman’s allegations before the settlement. The team handled the investigation, which violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy requiring the league’s office to oversee sexual assault investigations.