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NFL says the league, not the Washington Commanders, will investigate sexual harassment allegations against owner Dan Snyder


The Commanders earlier had announced the hiring of a private firm headed by two former federal prosecutors to investigate the allegations against Snyder.

The Commanders said the firm, Pallas Global Group LLC, retained Debra Wong Yang, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP in Los Angeles and a former judge, to manage an independent investigation into Tiffani Johnston’s allegations against Snyder.

“Last week, the league stated that we will review and consider Ms. Johnston’s allegations as we would any others regarding workplace conduct at the Washington Commanders,” NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. “The league, not the team, will conduct an independent investigation and will be retaining an investigator to determine the facts shortly.”

Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing and events coordinator for the team, told a House Oversight Committee roundtable last week that Snyder allegedly put his hand on her thigh during a dinner and aggressively pushed her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back as she fended off advances.

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Jordan Siev, an attorney for Snyder, said in a statement: “The Commanders have now engaged an independent oversight firm to engage and oversee independent legal counsel and conduct a full investigation of Ms. Johnston’s newly-raised allegation, which allegation was not made under oath. The independent investigators and independent legal counsel will release their findings publicly.”

Siev said last week that the allegations are “false, and have been categorically denied by Mr. Snyder.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, addressing reporters before the Super Bowl on Sunday, said he could not see how a team can investigate itself. He said the league takes the allegations “very seriously.”

“We need to understand what really, truly happened in those circumstances and treat that in the best and most serious way we can to make sure we preserve the type of culture we want in the NFL,” Goodell said Wednesday.

CNN has asked the NFL and the Commanders to clarify details of the investigations.

Johnston’s attorneys, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, said in a statement Wednesday, “Apparently the NFL also recognized how absurd it was to think Dan Snyder could investigate himself.

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“We await communication from the NFL about whether it intends to undertake this investigation independently, and without any common interest agreement with Snyder,” the statement said. “If the investigation is truly independent, and the NFL commits to make the findings public, my clients will be happy to participate.”

At the Congressional roundtable, former employees and cheerleaders also accused Snyder of asking staff to compile lewd video clips of cheerleaders without their knowledge or consent.

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.

In a statement, the Commanders said the founders of Pallas, former Assistant United States Attorneys Bonnie Jonas and Tiffany Moller, will manage the team’s investigation.

The team said the investigation findings will be released to the public at the conclusion of the inquiry.

The House committee said 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.

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.

CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

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