“In response to false and slanderous stories attributed to a paid for hire publication, Mr. Snyder has filed a defamation action in India, and an action in Los Angeles seeking to compel discovery in the United States to uncover the person(s) involved in the placement of these stories,” Rizwan Qureshi, one of Snyder’s attorneys, said in a statement. “While Mr. Snyder understands that truthful criticism about the Washington Football Team comes with the territory of owning the team, malicious criminal allegations cross the line. He intends to hold all of those responsible for this defamation accountable, and will donate any proceeds recovered in the lawsuit to charity.”
The articles in question have been removed from the website. The news site’s top editor, in an emailed statement, denied outsiders paid for the articles and accused Snyder and his attorneys of sending hired men to intimidate their employees.
“MEAWW has never ever taken any payment for any articles, and we have a very strict policy against doing so,” wrote Dean Williams, editor in chief of MEAWW. “Mr. Snyder and his lawyers have indulged in a campaign of intimidation against our employees — both current and former — turning up on their doorsteps and demanding to know the name of the person who allegedly divulged information to us on Mr. Snyder in a culture of sustained bullying that left many of our staff shaken. This person does not exist because we have had NO contact with anyone.”
Among the stories MEAWW published that Snyder found defamatory, according to the lawsuit, was one headlined “Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder faces sex trafficking allegations; Internet says, ‘He was on Epstein’s list,’ ” and another titled “#RedskinsScandal: Will Dan Snyder rename Washington Redskins the ‘Epsteins’?”
Late Friday evening, Snyder’s attorney released a second statement pointing out what he viewed as discrepancies between the statement MEAWW sent The Post and an interview one of the company’s founders, Nirnay Chowdhary, gave the New York Times in which he indicated “some sort of errors” were made in the stories about Snyder and the company had opened an internal investigation into the matter.
“What were the mistakes that were made which warrant an internal investigation,” wrote Qureshi. “Through this lawsuit, it is only a matter of time before the truth is revealed, and both MEAWW and its client are fully exposed.”
The stories were posted in the days before The Washington Post published a report detailing allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse by 15 female former team employees. None of the women cited in The Post’s story accused Snyder of sexual harassment.
During the week before The Post’s story was published, the team fired two employees accused of sexual harassment — director of pro personnel Alex Santos and Richard Mann II, the assistant director of pro personnel — and a third, senior vice president and radio play-by-play announcer Larry Michael, abruptly resigned. The unusual timing of the personnel moves, which the team did not explain when they happened, prompted rampant speculation on social media.
This has been a tumultuous summer for Snyder and his franchise. Last month, the team abandoned its longtime name under heavy pressure from corporate sponsors and political leaders and announced it would play the upcoming NFL season as the Washington Football Team while a new name is determined. Also, Snyder’s three minority owners — Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick W. Smith — are attempting to sell their shares in the franchise because they no longer wish to be partners with Snyder, according to people familiar with the situation.