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DC Attorney General sues Washington Commanders, proprietor Dan Snyder and NFL for deceiving residents



CNN
 — 

DC Attorney General Karl Racine introduced a lawsuit in opposition to embattled Washington Commanders proprietor Dan Snyder, the workforce and the NFL on Thursday, alleging they colluded to deceive DC residents about an NFL investigation into the workforce’s poisonous office tradition and allegations of sexual assault.

“For years the team and its owner have caused very real and very serious harm and then lied about it to dodge accountability and to continue to rake in profits,” Racine mentioned Thursday. “So far they seem to have gotten away with it, but that stops today.”

The lawsuit alleges these misleading efforts aimed to maintain followers in the dead of night and improve income for the workforce. The lawsuit cites the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, which provides the Attorney General broad authority to carry people or an organization accountable for deceptive prospects.

The AG’s investigation started final fall and located that Snyder lied to DC residents when he denied understanding something about allegations of a hostile work setting and tradition of sexual harassment throughout the workforce, in line with Racine.

“In fact, the evidence shows Snyder was not only aware of the toxic culture within his organization, he encouraged it and he participated in it,” Racine mentioned. “Mr. Snyder exerted a high level of personal control over everything the Commanders did and his misconduct gave others permission to treat women in the same demeaning manner.”

The NFL and Commanders launched what they billed as an impartial investigation into the allegations, however they secretly entered into an settlement to provide Snyder energy over what may very well be shared with the general public, the lawsuit alleges. At the identical time, Snyder and the workforce tried to intrude with and hinder the investigation, the lawsuit states.

Ultimately, the NFL launched a brief press launch summarizing the investigation’s findings however mentioned that they didn’t obtain a written investigative report resulting from confidentiality considerations, the lawsuit states.

“Does any part of this investigation sound independent? Does any of this sound like accountability?” Racine mentioned. “Of course not. That’s why we’re suing.”

Racine is now looking for unspecified monetary penalties for each incident wherein the events lied to residents courting again to July 2020. The Attorney General mentioned the penalties might run into the thousands and thousands of {dollars}. The lawsuit additionally seeks a courtroom order forcing the NFL to launch all findings from its 10-month investigation into the Commanders’ office tradition.

Commanders counsel John Brownlee and Stuart Nash issued a joint assertion in response to the lawsuit.

“Over two years ago, Dan and Tanya Snyder acknowledged that an unacceptable workplace culture had existed within their organization for several years and they have apologized many times for allowing that to happen,” they mentioned. “We agree with AG Racine on one thing: the public needs to know the truth. Although the lawsuit repeats a lot of innuendo, half-truths and lies, we welcome this opportunity to defend the organization – for the first time – in a court of law and to establish, once and for all, what is fact and what is fiction.”

NFL vice chairman of communications Brian McCarthy rejected the allegations as baseless.

“The independent investigation into workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders was thoroughly and comprehensively conducted by Beth Wilkinson and her law firm. Following the completion of the investigation, the NFL made public a summary of Ms. Wilkinson’s findings and imposed a record-setting fine against the club and its ownership,” he mentioned.

“We reject the legally unsound and factually baseless allegations made today by the DC Attorney General against the NFL and Commissioner Goodell and will vigorously defend against those claims.”

The announcement is simply the newest difficulty for the Commanders, the newly branded workforce mired in a number of main investigations. Once one of many NFL’s premiere franchises, the workforce has had minimal success on the sector and constant controversies off the sector during the last 20 years below Snyder.

Snyder introduced final week that he’s contemplating a sale of the workforce and that he and his spouse employed Bank of America Securities “to consider potential transactions.”

The allegations stem from a Washington Post report in 2020 wherein 15 feminine former Commanders staff and two journalists who lined the workforce accused workforce staffers of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

After an investigation by lawyer Beth Wilkinson, the NFL fined the workforce $10 million, and Snyder handed management over the franchise’s day by day operations to his spouse, Tanya Snyder.

Yet the NFL declined to publicly launch the findings of the investigation, sparking Congress to get entangled with a House Oversight Committee assessment. Commissioner Goodell testified earlier than the panel in June that the Commanders’ tradition was “not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long.”

Goodell mentioned that the workforce had not acquired a written report from Wilkinson with a view to protect the confidentiality of those that had participated within the inside investigation.

Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who characterize over 40 former Commanders staff, launched an announcement praising the go well with and calling on the NFL to launch the Wilkinson investigation.

“Today’s civil grievance filed by the DC Attorney General in opposition to the Washington Commanders, Dan Snyder, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell is additional proof of what we’ve lengthy identified: that each the Commanders and the NFL have engaged in deception and lies designed to hide the workforce’s a long time of sexual harassment and abuse, which has impacted not solely the victims of that abuse, but in addition shoppers within the District of Columbia.

“The submitting of this grievance additionally marks an essential step in validating the experiences of the courageous ladies and men who got here ahead and in reaching, for the primary time, a degree of transparency into the scope of the misconduct.

“For far too long, the NFL has actively concealed wrongdoing by the Washington Commanders and has shielded Mr. Snyder from accountability at every turn. The NFL must understand that sexual harassment and abuse cannot be tolerated or concealed.”

The off-field points have additionally been felt by the gamers and the workforce, now sitting at a disappointing 4-5 document, good for final place within the NFC East.

“Since I arrived here, it’s been a dark cloud over our organization,” Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste advised Journal de Québec on Saturday. “Every time something good happens on the field, something bad happens off the field. A fresh start would give us a renewed energy and would win back the fans’ trust.”

The Commanders additionally confronted sharp criticism for an inflammatory assertion posted Wednesday that used the August taking pictures of working again Brian Robinson Jr. to push again in opposition to the lawsuit.

Racine’s workplace introduced Wednesday he would maintain a press convention to make a “major announcement” associated to the Commanders the following day. In response, the Commanders issued an announcement that referenced Robinson’s taking pictures and criticized its hometown metropolis for “out-of-control violent crime.”

“Less than three months ago, a 23-year-old player on our team was shot multiple times, in broad daylight,” a Commanders spokesperson mentioned within the assertion. “Despite the out-of-control violent crime in DC, right now the Washington Commanders discovered for the primary time on Twitter that the DC Attorney General shall be holding a press convention to ‘make a major announcement’ associated to the group tomorrow.

“It is unfortunate that, in his final days in office, Mr. Racine appears more interested in making splashy headlines, based on offbeat legal theories, rather than doing the hard work of making the streets safe for our citizens, including bringing to justice the people who shot one of our players.”

Robinson, a rookie working again, was shot twice in an tried armed theft in August. He missed the primary month of the season as a result of accidents however has since recovered and returned to the sector. Two teenagers have been arrested final week in reference to the taking pictures.

Robinson’s agent Ryan Williams tweeted his displeasure with the Commanders’ assertion on Wednesday evening.

“Up until an hour ago, the Commanders handled the Brian Robinson situation with so much care, sincerity and class. And I was so grateful for all of it,” Williams mentioned in a tweet Wednesday. “Although I know that there are some great humans in that building, whoever is hiding behind this statement is not one of them.”

Commanders president Jason Wright issued one other assertion in a while Wednesday, saying the sooner assertion “expressed our external counsel’s ongoing frustration with the Attorney General’s office.”

“The lawyers’ legitimate frustrations with the AG should have been separate and apart from referencing the terrible crime that affected our player,” Wright mentioned.

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