The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Daniel Snyder pushed back as the NFL probed. Here are takeaways from The Post’s reporting.

Washington Football Team owner Daniel M. Snyder (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
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After former Washington Football Team employees alleged a culture of sexual harassment last year, owner Daniel Snyder pledged to cooperate with the NFL’s probe. But a Washington Post investigation demonstrates how Snyder, with help from attorneys and private investigators, operated behind the scenes in a way that former employees say interfered with attorney Beth Wilkinson’s work.

Snyder, through his attorneys, declined repeated interview requests and refused to respond to repeated inquiries from The Post.

Here are five key takeaways from The Post’s reporting:

1. Snyder’s attorneys tried to block a key accuser from speaking with Wilkinson, according to Wilkinson and the accuser’s attorney.

As she investigated, Wilkinson sought to interview a former team employee who in 2009 reached a confidential $1.6 million settlement with the team after accusing Snyder of sexual misconduct. The team had publicly confirmed that former employees would be released from nondisclosure agreements to speak with Wilkinson.

But his attorneys attempted to prevent the 2009 accuser from speaking to Wilkinson, and they offered the woman more money in the process of working to stop the interview, according to a letter the woman’s attorney wrote to Snyder’s lawyers. The letter was later submitted in court but sealed from public view; it was described to The Post by multiple people familiar with its contents. In a court filing, Wilkinson described Snyder’s lawyer’s efforts as seeking to secure “silence” and “noncooperation” from his accuser.

Snyder’s lawyers, in their own sealed letter, denied trying to block the interview, according to people familiar with that letter.

2. Snyder took former team employees to court, in part in an effort to identify The Post’s sources.

After an India-based website published false stories about Snyder, he sued the website in New Delhi, vowing to uncover a conspiracy by his enemies to defame him. But as he used the U.S. courts to uncover that conspiracy, records show, he also sought to identify people who had spoken to The Post — an effort one federal judge suggested was designed “to burden and harass” former employees.

3. Some former employees were unnerved by visits from private investigators.

Private investigators working on Snyder’s behalf also showed up uninvited at the homes of several former employees or contacted their friends and relatives, according to interviews and court records. Some former employees told The Post these visits appeared designed to intimidate them and to discourage them from participating in the NFL’s investigation.

4. Snyder’s falling-out with former team president Bruce Allen included a dispute over a text message that was never sent.

Months after Wilkinson’s investigation concluded, damaging emails sent to and from Allen were filed by Snyder in court and later leaked to the media. Snyder’s falling-out with Allen was multilayered, but according to people with knowledge of their relationship and text messages reviewed by The Post, Snyder was offended that Allen had never sent Snyder a text message congratulating him on hiring Coach Ron Rivera.

5. Snyder’s efforts raise more questions about the NFL’s decision not to make public a report or findings from Wilkinson’s probe.

In announcing the end of Wilkinson’s investigation, the NFL issued no public report or findings, a departure from previous league investigations. Snyder’s efforts behind the scenes — and the fact that Wilkinson viewed them as an attempt to “silence” an accuser — will only increase pressure on the NFL to provide more transparency, including to congressional Democrats who have pressed the NFL for more information.

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