Former employees and cheerleaders from the NFL’s Washington Commanders on Capitol Hill Thursday detailed their accusations of owner Dan Snyder, including asking staff to compile lewd video clips of cheerleaders without their knowledge or consent as well as a new claim of unwanted sexual touching.
At the House Oversight Committee roundtable, former cheerleader and Marketing and Events Coordinator Tiffani Johnston accused Snyder of putting his hand on her thigh during a dinner and later aggressively pushing her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back as she fended off advances, a new allegation.
A former video production manager alleged that he was asked to produce a lewd video featuring nude outtake clips of cheerleaders from a photoshoot without their knowledge at the request of Snyder.
Jordan Siev, an attorney for Snyder, said allegations made for the first time this week are “false, and have been categorically denied by Mr. Snyder.”
The House committee said on Friday it requested more than 2,000 previously unreleased documents over “newfound concerns” regarding the NFL’s own inquiry into Snyder in 2020.
Many of the previous allegations were first detailed by The Washington Post in 2020, which also reported that the team paid $1.6 million to a former employee in 2009 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Snyder, though neither Snyder nor the team acknowledged any wrongdoing in the agreement.
Several female former employees allege that for years, Snyder created a toxic environment of abuse and sexual harassment, where female employees were directed to wear tight clothing and faced lewd language and unwanted advances.
“Dan Snyder rules by fear,” the team’s former Director of Marketing Melanie Coburn told the panel.
Snyder responded to the allegations in a statement Thursday.
“While past conduct at the Team was unacceptable, the allegations leveled against me personally in today’s roundtable – many of which are well over 13 years old – are outright lies. I unequivocally deny having participated in any such conduct, at any time and with respect to any person.
“Tanya and I will not be distracted by those with a contrary agenda from continuing with the positive personnel and cultural changes that have been made at the Team over the past 18 months, and those that we continue to make both on and off the field,” Snyder said, referencing his wife, who was named co-CEO of the team last year.
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing the six witnesses who testified as well as more than 40 former employees, said in a statement Thursday that the testimonies were “an important first step in holding the Washington Football Team, and workplaces across the nation, accountable for the mistreatment of female employees.”
NFL’s 2020 investigation under scrutiny
In 2020, the NFL conducted a yearlong investigation into the Washington franchise’s work environment, and last July handed Snyder a $10 million fine.
The investigation concluded that Snyder was responsible for the club’s unprofessional and intimidating culture, and that he failed to establish a respectful work environment. At the time, Snyder said in a statement that the workplace culture was “not what it should be” and said he felt “great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while working here.”
But the league never released the full findings of the investigation. Several of the accusers have demanded the full report be released to the public, calling the lack of transparency a “coverup.”
The House Committee for Oversight and Reform’s Friday letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell demanded the league cooperate with the committee’s investigation and release the full findings of their internal probe.
The move comes after documents obtained by the committee raised “newfound concerns over the independence” of the NFL’s investigation, according to a news release.
The committee is asking for the additional documents by February 14 and said that if the league fails to comply, the committee will “consider alternate means of obtaining compliance.”
An NFL spokesperson on Friday confirmed that the league received the letter and would review it. The spokesperson said the league had been cooperating with the committee by sharing “nearly 80,000 pages of documents” and making others available for review and responding to questions.
“The Committee has requested many documents which are clearly protected by the attorney-client privilege or are attorney-work product,” the spokesperson said. “The League, and not the team, has and will determine which information it is in a position to produce.”
Siev, Snyder’s attorney, said that neither Snyder nor the team have ever done anything to block the committee from receiving documents “that are not expressly protected by attorney-client privilege or attorney work product.”
Attorneys Banks and Katz again called on the league to release the report in their Thursday statement, saying employees had participated in the inquiry “based on the belief that the findings would be made public” and “lead to changes”.
“By keeping the investigation’s findings hidden, the NFL and WFT (Washington Football Team) are trying to silence these witnesses and avoid responsibility,” the statement added. “It is time for Congress to demand transparency and accountability.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct some of the allegations made against Snyder. Ms. Johnston accused him of using his hand on her lower back to aggressively push her towards his limousine.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.