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Former Washington Football Team employees ask NFL to suspend owner Dan Snyder

A letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asked that the league conduct its own investigation into allegations of sexism and harassment against the team.

Former Washington Football Team employees who have alleged experiencing sexism and harassment during their time with the team called Thursday for the suspension of majority owner Dan Snyder.

A letter addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asked that the league conduct its own investigation and to suspend Snyder until it is completed. The Washington Football Team hired Beth Wilkinson and her firm, Wilkinson Walsh, to conduct an independent review of the accusations after they were first reported in The Washington Post.

Last month, more than a dozen women came forward to the newspaper alleging that they were harassed when they worked for the team. The women said they were the subjects of unwanted sexual comments and were told to wear revealing clothing or to flirt with clients.

The Post reported new allegations Wednesday, alleging that a producer with the organization spliced together inappropriate videos of the team's cheerleaders in 2008 and 2010, using outtakes in which the women's body parts had accidentally been exposed during a photo shoot.

One of the team's former cheerleaders, Tiffany Bacon Scourby, was involved in both photo shoots. She told The Post that she was "horrified" and "nauseous" upon seeing one of the videos.

Scourby also alleged that Snyder propositioned her in 2004. Scourby alleged that Snyder approached her at a charity event and suggested that she join his friend in a hotel room so they "could get to know each other better."

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Snyder released a statement following the Post report denying Scourby's allegation, saying, "This never happened." He criticized the newspaper for what he described as a "hit job" for reporting the old allegations.

"Ms. Scourby did not report this alleged incident to anyone on the team in 2004, in her 8 years as a cheerleader, or at any time in the past 16 years," Snyder's statement said.

Image: Dan Snyder
Dan Snyder on the sideline before a "Monday Night Football" game in Chicago on Sept. 23.The Washington Post / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Snyder also denied any knowledge of the 2008 and 2010 videos, saying the videos appeared to be "unauthorized or fraudulent." Snyder said he had been "too hands-off" as an owner.

The Washington Football Team did not immediately respond to a phone call or an email requesting comment on the call for Snyder's suspension.

Attorneys Lisa J. Banks and Debra S. Katz wrote the letter on behalf of more than 12 former employees they have taken on as clients.

"Daniel Snyder has been permitted to lead an organization that has been permeated with misogyny, sexual harassment and routine abuse of female employees with impunity," the letter to Goodell said.

Banks and Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford in 2018 when she alleged that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a teenager, did not specify how many former employees they represent.

The attorneys representing the former employees said in their letter Thursday that Snyder's leadership condoned "the misogyny, objectification, and abuse that is deeply engrained in the culture."

"Our clients would gladly participate in such an NFL investigation, but do not feel safe speaking to investigators hired by Mr. Snyder and do not trust the investigation that is currently underway," the letter said.

The letter said the former employees fear coming forward to investigators hired by the Washington Football Team because of Snyder's "propensity to weaponize the legal system to punish accusers."

Katz and Banks called on the NFL to release former employees from nondisclosure agreements and asserted that the league has the responsibility to ensure a safe environment for all employees, women included.

"The time is long overdue for the NFL to police this type of behavior and to act decisively to penalize those in its ranks, like Daniel Snyder, who allow women to be repeatedly exploited and mistreated as a prerogative of being a rich and powerful NFL team owner," their letter said.

Goodell released a statement Wednesday following the second wave of allegations in The Post, saying an "independent investigation" was in progress.

"We strongly condemn the unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior and workplace environment alleged in the report which is entirely inconsistent with our standards and has no place in the NFL," Goodell said.

Katz and Banks said that the investigation Goodell referred to was the one being conducted by the firm hired by the Washington Football Team and that promising to monitor that inquiry was "too little and too late."

The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment in response to the letter Thursday.