Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is seen on the field prior to a game against the San Diego Chargers at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. in 2013. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The Washington Commanders NFL team announced Wednesday it has hired an independent investigator to probe allegations by a former employee that team owner Dan Snyder sexually harassed her.
Pallas Global Group LLC, a firm led by two former assistant U.S. attorneys, will manage "an independent investigation" into claims made by Tiffani Johnston that Snyder touched her without her consent at a work dinner about 13 years ago, the Commanders said in a statement.
The team said it is "committed to a thorough and independent investigation of Ms. Johnston's allegation and pledges full cooperation with the investigation," while promising that the results of the investigation will be released publicly at its conclusion.
The announcement, however, was dismissed by Johnston's attorneys, who called it "a desperate public relations stunt, clearly designed to absolve [Snyder] of wrongdoing."
"The idea that Dan Snyder has hired a team to investigate his own actions is utterly absurd," said Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent Johnston and more than 40 former employees of the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins.
Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the NFL club, was one of six former team employees who spoke before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last week.
At the hearing, they and Democratic lawmakers urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to publicly release a report on the team's culture compiled by attorney Beth Wilkinson. The league said it will not release the completed report, arguing that doing so would compromise the anonymity of those named in it.
Johnson testified that her invitation to a team dinner in 2005 or 2006 was an "orchestration by [her boss] and Dan Snyder to put me in a compromising, sexual situation." Johnston said she was later told to keep quiet about the incident.
"If, as Mr. Snyder claims today, he genuinely wanted the truth about his actions to emerge, he would have embraced the public release of Ms. Wilkinson's findings," Banks and Katz said.
"Instead, he worked with the NFL to block the release of the Wilkinson report. And now, he has handpicked new investigators to do what apparently the Wilkinson report did not do -- sugarcoat his own actions."
Johnston, they said, "will not participate in this sham of an investigation, and the public will not be duped into believing that this is anything other than Dan Snyder trying to whitewash his own misconduct."