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Last October, Roger Goodell said that he would not release a written report based on the investigation into the alleged toxic workplace culture within the Commanders franchise led by Beth Wilkinson. The NFL commissioner doubled down on his reasoning for that decision in his prepared remarks for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform Wednesday, a hearing that team owner Dan Snyder declined to attend earlier this month.

Goodell argues that maintaining the anonymity of those who participated in the investigation was crucial to put together Wilkinson’s report, and therefore the league opted for a “comprehensive oral briefing” on the findings rather than any written report.

“Encouraging employees to come forward and share their experiences, which were frequently painful and emotional was essential to identifying both the organization’s failures and how to fix them. To encourage this participation, Ms. Wilkinson promised confidentiality to any current or former employee,” Goodell said in his prepared remarks, as shared by A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports.

He added support for the victims who have chosen to go public with their accounts, including those who appeared before the committee themselves.

Last fall, multiple women involved in the investigation called Goodell’s similar statements on the matter false, calling for full transparency from the league. Rachel Engleson, a former employee of the Washington franchise, tweeted on Oct. 26 that, “We were told our identities would be kept confidential in a written report. Meaning, if I spoke about something that happened to me, there would be no way Dan or others could trace the info back to me. Not that there would be no written report.”

Attorney Lisa Banks, who represents 40 former Commanders employees who participated in the investigation, also called Goodell’s statement false.

The investigation into the franchise was opened after a 2020 Washington Post report detailed the sexual harassment that 15 former employees experienced. Snyder was accused of instructing employees to create a “behind-the-scenes” video including clips of partially naked team cheerleaders from a swimsuit calendar shoot in ’08. Lawyers and investigators working for Snyder also reportedly “took steps that potential witnesses … viewed as attempts to interfere with the NFL’s investigation,” per the Post.

More claims about Snyder and the Commanders came out during a roundtable with former franchise employees, hosted by the committee.

“I learned that placing me strategically by the owner at a work dinner after this networking event was not for me to discuss business, but to allow him to place his hand on my thigh under the table,” Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for Washington, said in her opening statement. “I learned how to discreetly remove a man’s unwanted hand from my thigh at a crowded dinner table, at a crowded restaurant to avoid a scene. I learned that job survival meant I should continue my conversation with another co-worker rather than to call out Dan Snyder right then, in the moment.

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“I also learned later that evening how to awkwardly laugh while Dan Snyder aggressively pushed me towards his limo with his hand on my lower back, encouraging me to ride with him to my car. I learned how to continue to say no even though a situation was getting more awkward, uncomfortable and physical.”

Snyder has denied those allegations.

The Post also obtained and published legal documents Tuesday pertaining to a case where a former employee accused Snyder of sexual harassment and assault in 2009. The alleged incident reportedly occurred in a private area of one of the team’s private planes. Washington reached a $1.6 million settlement three months after the alleged incident. 

In addition to the claims of sexual harassment and a larger toxic workplace culture within the franchise, the committee claimed in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that the Commanders and Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct that victimized thousands of team fans and the National Football League.”

Former Washington sales executive Jason Friedman gave his testimony on the financial impropriety claims. The team is alleged to have misappropriated funds, including withholding customers’ security deposits on premium seating. It also alleged underreported ticket revenue, which is shared with the league. The team reportedly had “two sets of books”—one that was shared with the NFL with underreported revenue numbers, and another accurate report “shown to Mr. Snyder.”

In his statement to the committee, Goodell once again says that Snyder is not involved in day-to-day team operations, and that his wife Tanya represents the team in league matters and on a daily basis. Snyder ceded day-to-day control of the franchise in July 2021 amid the various scandals affecting the team.

The Commanders were levied a $10 million fine from the league after the NFL released partial findings from the probe into workplace misconduct.

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