WASHINGTON — A woman has accused Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder of harassing and sexually assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, and the woman was later paid $1.6 million by the team to settle his claims, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.
The Post reported on Tuesday that it had obtained a letter from 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 revealed in legal documents related to more recent investigations into the team, but details of the woman’s allegations were not disclosed. The woman agreed not to sue the team or publicly disclose her allegations as part of the settlement.
Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, according to the letter, and an investigative team accused her of making up the allegations in an effort to extort him.
The contents of the letter were leaked a day before a scheduled hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating the Washington team’s work culture. Snyder declined an invitation from the committee to testify, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had to testify remotely.
The NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder stepped down from day-to-day operations after an investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson revealed a work culture that was abusive towards women. But the league declined to release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings.
The committee has since uncovered an allegation of sexual harassment by Snyder. Former team employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limo, which Snyder denied.
It sparked a new investigation into the NFL-commissioned team led by Mary Jo White, a former US attorney and chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. White is also looking into allegations of financial impropriety by a former team vice president of sales. The NFL said White’s findings would be made public.
The letter obtained by the Post was written by Howard Shapiro, an attorney with the WilmerHale law firm, which had helped the team investigate the woman’s allegations. Shapiro wrote that the woman’s claims were “knowingly false.” He declined to comment on the Post.
According to the letter, the woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and trying to undress in a private, partitioned area in the back of a team plane during a flight. a flight home 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 plane’s rear area door was open for most of the flight and that other passengers and flight attendants were frequently present in that section, the letter said.