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Daniel Snyder, in court filing, calls sexual misconduct allegation ‘meritless’

Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, center, before a game last month against the New York Giants. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In a court filing late Wednesday, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder asserted that allegations of sexual misconduct made by a female former employee against him in 2009 were “meritless” and that the team agreed to pay the woman as part of a confidential settlement after its insurance carrier decided to settle.

Snyder also stated in the filing that “no evidence of wrongdoing was found after an investigation by a well-respected law firm” into the woman’s allegations, and he accused Dwight Schar, a minority owner in the team and Snyder’s longtime business partner, of leading “an extortion campaign” against him.

Brendan Sullivan, attorney for the female former employee, declined to comment. Schar did not respond to a request to comment. Attorneys for Snyder did not reply to a request to comment.

The team paid the woman $1.6 million in 2009, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, after she accused Snyder of sexual misconduct on his private plane in April 2009, on a flight from Las Vegas to Washington. The agreement, a copy of which was reviewed by The Post, stated the woman made “allegations,” but it did not describe them. In the agreement, Snyder and the team did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Washington Football Team settled sexual misconduct claim against Daniel Snyder for $1.6 million

Key details of the agreement reviewed by The Post match up with a confidential settlement that surfaced as part of an NFL investigation of allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the team’s workplace under Snyder’s ownership. In a separate federal lawsuit, in Virginia, the team’s lawyers and its former general counsel are fighting to keep details relating to that settlement from public release. The NFL investigation, overseen by D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson, was opened in response to multiple Post reports on allegations of pervasive sexual harassment and mistreatment of female team employees.

Snyder submitted the signed affidavit in federal court in Maryland, where he has been sued by minority team owners Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman. In a previous court filing, the minority owners accused Snyder of leaking information to the news media and termed the allegations relating to the 2009 settlement as “a serious accusation of sexual misconduct.”

In his filing, Snyder denied leaking documents and information relating to the ongoing dispute with his business partners and leveled similar accusations at Schar. According to Snyder, Schar has threatened to leak information relating to the 2009 settlement if Snyder doesn’t sell the team. Schar, Smith and Rothman’s minority shares probably would be worth far more if the team were being sold in its entirety, according to industry experts. Attorneys for the minority owners could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“Mr. Schar threatened my personal attorney in a conversation on July 25, telling him that the threat he has been seeking to hold over me would come out if I didn’t ‘just sell the team’; that I ‘won’t have a choice’; that the story ‘will kill Dan’; and that I ‘will suffer a horrible existence,’ ” Snyder stated in the filing.

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Snyder also asserted that Schar attempted to leak information to The Post through Mary Ellen Blair, a former executive assistant to Snyder. In a declaration Blair provided, according to Snyder, she stated Schar told her to give information to The Post and that Tracy Schar, Dwight’s daughter, bought Blair a “burner phone” for their conversations.

Blair deferred comment to her attorney, Natalie Harris, who declined to comment Wednesday.

In the case between the minority owners and Snyder, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte scheduled a hearing for Jan. 7 to discuss the dueling allegations of leaking information to the news media. Snyder, Schar, Rothman and Smith all will have to appear personally at the virtual hearing and answer questions under penalty of perjury, Messitte ordered.

“I am fighting on multiple fronts for interests that go beyond just me, including for the Team that I love, as well as my family, and can swear to this Court that the accusations I improperly leaked information to the press are false,” Snyder stated in his affidavit.