The Washington Commanders, with the help of the NFL, purposely misled consumers amid sweeping allegations of sexual misconduct and a toxic work environment in order to ensure that fans “would continue to support the Team financially without thinking that they were supporting such misconduct,” a complaint filed by the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office alleged.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced a civil lawsuit accusing the Commanders, owner Dan Snyder, the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell of “colluding to deceive District residents” during its probe into workplace misconduct – a violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
“In order to sell expensive tickets and merchandise and maintain the Team as a profitable part of the League, Defendants need the Team to inspire public confidence and fan loyalty. But Defendants repeatedly attempted to bolster such confidence and loyalty through artful deception to the detriment of District consumers,” the complaint read.
“Faced with public outrage over detailed and widespread allegations of sexual misconduct and a persistently hostile work environment at the Team, Defendants made a series of public statements to convince District consumers that this dysfunctional and misogynistic conduct was limited and that they were fully cooperating with an independent investigation. These statements were false and calculated to mislead consumers so they would continue to support the Team financially without thinking that they were supporting such misconduct.”
The complaint claims that the NFL took over the investigation, conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, to ensure its credibility but “actively worked to thwart the investigation and suppress its results.”
“Days after assuming control of the investigation to ensure it was independent of the Team, the League entered into an agreement with the Team that guaranteed Snyder the authority to block the public release of any information coming out of the investigation.”
The lawsuit also detailed Snyder’s “campaign to interfere with and obstruct the investigation,” which included payoffs and intimidation tactics.
“The NFL was aware of Snyder’s attempted interference with the investigation but allowed it to continue and downplayed its significance,” the complaint read. “Commissioner Goodell characterized Snyder’s abusive litigation and use of private investigators as ‘a little bit of tug and pull with particularly [sic] lawyers and law firms,’ while publicly guaranteeing it did not interfere with Wilkinson’s work.”
The Commanders have not responded to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said Thursday, “We reject the legally unsound and factually baseless allegations made today by the D.C. Attorney General against the NFL and Commissioner Goodell and will vigorously defend against those claims.”
Lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former team employees, released a statement saying that civil lawsuit is evidence that “both the Commanders and the NFL have engaged in deception and lies designed to conceal the team’s decades of sexual harassment and abuse.”
“Today’s civil complaint filed by the DC Attorney General against the Washington Commanders, Dan Snyder, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell is further evidence of what we’ve long known: that both the Commanders and the NFL have engaged in deception and lies designed to conceal the team’s decades of sexual harassment and abuse, which has impacted not only the victims of that abuse, but also consumers in the District of Columbia. The filing of this complaint also marks an important step in validating the experiences of the brave women and men who came forward and in achieving, for the first time, a level of transparency into the scope of the misconduct.”
The lawsuit is seeking accountability from the defendants in the form of “equitable and declaratory relief,” an unspecified amount in restitution and damages and civil penalties, among other requests.