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Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder reportedly faced sexual assault allegations in 2009 and the team paid the woman $1.6 million to settle her claims.
Details about the alleged sexual assault were revealed in a Washington Post report Tuesday – a day before a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing was set to take place. Snyder declined to testify at the hearing. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will testify remotely.
The outlet obtained a letter by an attorney working for the team that detailed the woman’s allegations while arguing that her claims were not credible. The $1.6 million settlement had previously been reported, but the details of the woman’s allegations weren’t disclosed. The woman agreed not to bring litigation against the team or publicly disclose her allegations as part of the settlement.
According to the letter, Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, and a team investigation accused her of making up the claims in an attempt to extort him.
The letter was written by Howard Shapiro, an attorney at WilmerHale Law Firm, which had helped the team investigate the allegations. Shapiro wrote that the woman’s claims were “knowingly false.”
Snyder was accused of asking the woman for sex, groping her and trying to take her clothes off in a private partitioned area at the back of the team plane during a return flight from a trip to Las Vegas.
The letter stated that none of the other passengers on the flight supported the woman’s account. Others said the door to the back area of the plane was open for most of this particular flight and that other passengers and flight attendants were frequently present in that section, the letter said.
The Commanders have been accused of fostering a hostile workplace environment.
The NFL conducted its own investigation and fined the team $10 million after attorney Beth Wilkinson’s investigation determined their workplace culture was abusive toward women. A written report was never issued and Snyder stepped away from day-to-day operations.
The investigation by the lawmakers uncovered a separate allegation of sexual assault by Snyder. Former team employee Tiffani Johnson told the committee Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine. Snyder declined the allegations.
That triggered a new investigation of the team ordered by the NFL and led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The team is also under investigation for alleged financial improprieties. The NFL has said White’s findings will be made public.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.