News & Politics

NFL’s Probe Into Washington Football Team Reportedly Uncovers Decade-Old Secret Settlement

Little is known about the circumstances that promoted the confidential agreement.

Photograph by Flickr user Keith Allison.

A decade-old confidential settlement has been unearthed though the NFL’s investigation into sexual harassment claims made by former employees of the Washington Football Team, The Washington Post has reported.

The details of the settlement are still secret. According to the Post, neither the name of the person who brought the complaint nor the nature of their claims are public.

While team owner Dan Snyder has agreed to assist with the NFL’s investigation, the Post reports that he is now preparing to step into the legal dispute as to which aspects of the settlement must remain secret, and which can become public.

The existence of the confidential settlement, as well as the legal wrangling surrounding it, was first reported by Law360.

The NFL’s investigation in being led by attorney Beth Wilkinson.

From the Post:

David P. Donovan, who served as the team’s general counsel from 2005 to 2011, sued Wilkinson last month in federal court in Virginia to stop her from disclosing information pertaining to a 2009 confidential agreement to which Donovan is a party. In the suit filed Nov. 9, Donovan sought to keep private all court records, including any public notice of the lawsuit itself, arguing that making the proceedings public would “undermine public confidence in the enforceability of confidential agreements between private parties.” That request was denied Nov. 17.

Donovan dropped the suit Nov. 23, but Wilkinson’s lawyers urged the court to decide which documents in the case could be unsealed “so the public can understand what [Donovan] is trying to accomplish through this lawsuit and how it relates to the investigation writ-large.”

…After Wilkinson submitted some redacted filings to the court, Donovan filed an emergency motion Monday, seeking to delay those disclosures, saying Snyder and the team intend to intervene in the case for the purpose of “asserting privilege and privacy or related interests over information that is under seal.” U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis granted the motion Monday afternoon.”

The NFL has been looking into allegations of widespread workplace sexual harassment at The Washington Football Team that surfaced in two Washington Post articles published over the summer. Snyder has denied having any role in the incidents that The Post described in their articles, and he has pledged to build a a new culture and standard for our team.”

Read the full story in here.

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Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.