The NFL has revealed through a leak to the NFL’s in-house media conglomerate that the NFL will be “taking over” the investigation regarding sexual harassment and related misconduct at the Washington Football Team.
Per the leak/report, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to Washington owner Daniel Snyder regarding the subject on Monday, and Snyder was “supportive” of the league’s intervention.
“This move by the NFL was to ensure the further independence of the investigation,” declared NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
“Further” implies that the investigation of the Washington Football Team as run by a lawyer selected, hired, and paid by the Washington Football Team was independent. It never was, and it never could have been.
So wil there be a new investigator, a truly independent one, hired to handle the investigation? PFT has learned from a source with knowledge of the investigation that Beth Wilkinson, who was hired by Washington to conduct the investigation, will continue to conduct it.
Last week, lawyers representing more than a dozen former Washington employees informed Goodell that their clients would not cooperate with an investigation conducted by the team, but that they would cooperate with an investigation run by the league. It’s unclear whether the former employees will cooperate with a league-run investigation that is still conducted by Wilkinson.
Although Washington can compel current employees to cooperate with a team- or league-run investigation, neither the team nor the league can force former employees to talk to investigators or to provide documents. Frankly, former employees shouldn’t cooperate with Wilkinson. Even if the league has taken charge of the investigation, she was selected and hired by Washington. She former an attorney-client relationship with the team, and possibly with Snyder himself. A new investigator easily can be hired by the league to get up to speed and to move the investigation forward in a truly independent way.
Hopefully, that will be the next step to achieve “further” (i.e., actual) independence of the investigation.