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NFL to Handle Investigation on Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Daniel Snyder

Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has hired a legal team to look into sexual harassment allegations made against him last week at a congressional roundtable on the franchise's workplace culture. However, the NFL has since stepped in. 

Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager with the team, described years of sexual harassment from executives during the roundtable. She accused Snyder of making unwanted sexual advances during a work dinner, saying the owner put his hand on her thigh and pressed her toward his limo.

In a statement, the franchise said it is “committed to a thorough and independent investigation of Ms. Johnston’s allegation, and pledges full cooperation with the investigation.” Just hours after the announcement, the NFL released a statement clarifying that the NFL will conduct the independent investigation, and not the Commanders.

“The League, not the team, will conduct an independent investigation and will be retaining an investigator to determine the facts shortly.”

Pallas Global Group LLC, led by former Assistant United States Attorneys Bonnie Jonas and Tiffany Moller, was originally said to manage the investigation. The company also retained Debra Wong Yang to lead the investigation. Yang is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP in Los Angeles and previously served as the firm's chair of the white collar defense and investigations practice group.

The team said in its release that Yang will “report her findings to Pallas Global Group, and those findings will be released to the public.” The NFL has not announced who will handle the investigation, since announcing it will handle it and not Washington. 

Johnston was one of five women who presented stories of sexual harassment and discrimination to the congressional committee, which has been investigating the team since last fall.

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Last Friday, documents released by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform raised questions about whether the NFL’s past investigation into the Washington Commanders was truly independent.

It revealed that not only did Washington agree to a written report being created of lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s findings and recommendations, but that the league would not be able to release the findings without permission from Snyder, according to the documents. 

“In any other organization, an independent investigation would be a welcome step. In the case of Mr. Snyder’s Commanders, it is a road to nowhere,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said in a statement on Wednesday about the new investigation. “During the Committee’s roundtable, we heard firsthand how Mr. Snyder not only condoned and encouraged the team’s culture of sexual harassment and other misconduct, he personally engaged in unwelcome sexual contact with a subordinate. The idea that this ‘independent’ investigation is anything more than an attempt to further cover up his bad behavior and intimidate the victims who bravely shared their stories is absurd. Mr. Snyder must be held accountable for his actions and the Committee will continue to push the NFL to release the findings of its investigation into the Washington Commanders.”

Snyder denied Johnston's allegations in a statement last week. In a statement to the Associated Press, league spokesperson Brian McCarthy said: “The NFL is reviewing and will consider Ms. Johnston’s allegations as we would any other new allegations regarding workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders. We will determine any further action as appropriate.”

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