The NFL hires Mary Jo White to investigate Danielle Snyder and the leaders

The association confirmed the selection of White, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, after informing the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that it would lead the investigation.

White led the NFL’s investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct against former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. Her investigation concluded that there was no information discrediting the allegations made against Richardson. The NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million in 2018, and sold the franchise to David Tepper.

White’s investigation of Snyder and the leaders will focus on the allegations made during a congressional roundtable on February 3. Tiffany Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing director for the team, told members of Congress that Snyder teased her at the team’s dinner, put his hand on her thigh and pressed her toward his limousine. Snyder denied the charges and described the allegations directly against him as “blatant lies”.

“The Washington leaders are pleased that the NFL has appointed Mary Jo White to look into the recent allegations made by Tiffany Johnston,” the team said in a statement Friday. The leaders have always been intent on conducting a full and fair investigation into this matter, and making the results of that investigation public. Given the team’s confidence in Ms. White’s ability to conduct such a full and fair investigation, leaders will not conduct an investigation separately, and will fully cooperate with Ms. White.”

The committee declined to comment on Friday through its spokesperson.

Johnston was among six former employees who appeared on Capitol Hill during a roundtable to tell lawmakers about their experiences working with the team while the committee investigates workplace culture and the NFL’s handling of allegations of rampant sexual misconduct in the franchise. The commission continued to lobby the association for documents and information relating to the previous investigation into the team’s workplace conducted by DC attorney Beth Wilkinson.

Lisa Banks, a lawyer representing several of the team’s former employees, said Friday that Wilkinson “earned the trust of dozens of victims and witnesses who gave her evidence of rampant sexual harassment and abuse” during the previous investigation. In a statement, Banks said she and her clients “understood that Ms. Wilkinson would also conduct an investigation into Tiffany Johnston’s allegations … given her unique knowledge of the Leaders Organization, her culture of sexual harassment, and the credibility of Dan Snyder.”

The appointment of “a new investigator, without such prior knowledge,” Banks said. . . It makes no sense at all. But she said she would have discussions with Johnston about her willingness to participate in the new investigation, adding that she and her clients are “happy with the NFL’s agreement to release the results” and hope that this will be done with Wilkinson’s findings.

The NFL deemed Johnston’s accusations made during the roundtable new allegations — meriting a new investigation and possibly additional disciplinary action — because Johnston refused to participate in the Wilkinson investigation, a person familiar with the matter said when the new allegations surfaced.

In this case, the NFL told Wilkinson not to provide a written report and not publicly disclose its findings, which led to criticism from former team employees and other observers. Goodell and Douri said they took this approach to avoid violating promises of confidentiality to some of the witnesses who spoke to Wilkinson.

The association said, through a spokesperson for the NFL, that the association intends to publish the results of White’s investigation into this case, because the allegations were made by individuals in a public forum, without the expectation that the identities of witnesses would not be disclosed.

White is a partner at the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. She represented members of the Sackler family that controls Purdue Pharma, the company that developed and markets the pain reliever OxyContin. Purdue and other makers and distributors of opioids have faced lawsuits from county, state and city officials citing prescription opioids for the drug abuse epidemic. In December, a federal judge struck down a nearly $4.5 billion settlement that had given family members legal protection from future opioid-related lawsuits.

In the Richardson case, the NFL took over the investigation of the Panthers after Sports Illustrated reported that four former team employees received large financial settlements — accompanied by nondisclosure agreements — following allegations of inappropriate behavior and comments by Richardson. Those accusations included allegations of sexually suggestive remarks and actions and a reported incident in which Richardson racially abused a black employee.

Last week, leaders initially announced that they would investigate recent allegations that have arisen from the Roundtable on Capitol Hill. Later that day, the NFL said the league — not the team — would conduct the investigation. Goodell in Inglewood, Calif., said at his annual press conference during Super Bowl week that it was not appropriate for the team to investigate itself.

The association also said in a letter last week to a House committee that leaders had denied access to nearly 109,000 documents related to the Wilkinson investigation. The team denied this claim. Snyder’s attorney, Jordan Seif, said in a statement that the leaders “have never prevented the NFL from obtaining any unmarked documentation and will not do so in the future.”

Following the Wilkinson investigation, the NFL announced in July that the team had been fined $10 million and that Snyder’s wife, Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, would take over the day-to-day operations of the franchise for an indefinite period.

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