Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, on several occasions, allegedly intimidated and attempted to thwart witnesses from speaking to investigators who were investigating him, according to a report from The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Beth Wilkinson, an attorney assigned to investigate the Washington Football Team, was retained by the NFL after several Post investigations detailed sexual misconduct that also implicated Snyder. Her report was concluded in July, but her findings were never revealed. Instead, the NFL listened to an oral report.
However, while conducting her investigation in July 2020, Wilkinson discovered that Snyder had reached a $1.6 million settlement with a former employee who described sexual misconduct by Snyder. Snyder's team of attorneys attempted to prevent Wilkinson from speaking with the woman, according to the Post.
The woman's lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, said Snyder's lawyer offered her more than the $1.6 million settlement to not speak to anyone about the alleged 2009 incident. In court filings, Wilkinson described Snyder's attorney's tactics as an attempt to “silence” the former team employee. After the Post's investigation was released, A. Scott Bolden from the law firm Reed Smith, the same law firm that represents Snyder and the team, denied any such offer in a statement.
"Untrue. It did not happen," he wrote. "Absolutely no effort was made by me or any Reed Smith lawyers to dissuade anyone from speaking with Beth Wilkinson or otherwise cooperating with her investigation, nor was any money offered to anyone not to cooperate. Anyone suggesting something to the contrary is lying.”
Wilkinson ultimately ended up speaking with the former employee, but this wasn't the only time Snyder and his team stepped in. After the Post's initial report prompted Wilkinson's investigations, Snyder, on several occasions, allegedly tried to interfere.
His lawyers filed petitions to identify employees who had spoken to the Post, and Snyder reportedly hired private investigators who showed up to homes of former employees and contacted their friends and relatives, these former employees' attorneys told the Post.
“It was an intimidation tactic,” Megan Imbert, a former producer in the team’s broadcast department, told the Post. “I know there are people who didn’t talk to Beth Wilkinson, who have told me they would talk … but only if subpoenaed under a court of law. That’s how petrified they are of Dan Snyder.”
After the alleged sexual misconduct in 2009, the woman reported the event to David Donovan, the team's general counsel. After he conducted an investigation, he concluded that Snyder was innocent and the woman had fabricated the account, according to the Post. Strangely enough, while attempting to speak with the woman, Wilkinson was sued. She was not sued by Snyder, but by Donovan, who had retired from law in '19.
Donovan was suing Wilkinson in order to bar her from discussing the 2009 incident with anyone because he claimed he was trying to protect his reputation, per the Post. At this time, he believed the investigation's findings would have been made public, and assumed that Wilkinson's investigation and her findings would criticize him and his '09 investigation. He also claimed he was acting on his own behalf with the lawsuit.
The lawsuit lasted only two weeks, though. Donovan withdrew it once Wilkinson disclosed she had already informed the NFL about the 2009 incident, and the judge denied his request to seal the case from the public, per the Post.
More NFL Coverage:
- NFL Power Rankings: Packers on Top, Bucs Perfectly Imperfect
- Urban Meyer Is Bringing Nothing to the Jaguars
- Rookie Micah Parsons Is the Key to a Transformed Cowboys Defense
- Washington Football: Team Reveals Logan Thomas Timetable
For more Washington Football Team news, head over to Washington Football.