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Wilkinson report may be further delayed as a related court case is pushed into June

Wilkinson report may be further delayed as a related court case is pushed into June

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A decision last week by a U.S. District Court judge could mean an even longer wait for the investigation into sexual misconduct at the Washington Football Team.

Washington attorney Beth Wilkinson, who is assembling the report for the National Football League, is trading legal filings with David Donovan, who served as the team’s general counsel from 2005 to 2011.

Donovan’s initial lawsuit against Wilkinson, in November, requested that all documents pertaining to a 2009 sexual harassment settlement by the team be kept confidential.

The team, and owner Dan Snyder, were not listed as parties in the initial suit, and have promised open access to Wilkinson in conducting her investigation.

Details of the 2009 settlement remain under seal for now, though the Washington Post has reported that the team settled with a female employee for $1.6 million after an allegation of sexual harassment by Snyder on his private jet.

The Post reported that the employee was initially fired for cause, but as part of the settlement, the team agreed to amend her personnel record to show she voluntarily resigned, and provided her with a letter of recommendation.

The lawsuit by Donovan was dropped in November. However, the parties have continued to fight over what information should be redacted from public filings, which could influence what Wilkinson is able to include in her report. The Football Team has joined this portion of the proceedings, as a party that would be impacted by the release of the documents.

Wilkinson requested an expedited hearing on the matter two weeks ago, but attorneys for the team rejected the notion that the case needed to be expedited.

The judge initially set the hearing for June 2, but later canceled that hearing and suggested he would set another one after reviewing the latest round of filings.

The two sides traded barbs late last week in filings, with the team’s attorneys including an email from one of Wilkinson’s representatives suggesting that a hearing would be a “disaster” for the team and recommending a prompt resolution.

Wilkinson’s team responded that the phrase had been used in telephone correspondence between the parties and said the intent was to show that the longer legal action continues, the more the court might decide to release to the public.

“Much of the Team’s objections are premised on the idea that the Team and related third parties had nothing to do with [Donovan’s] lawsuit, and that the information in question has not been publicly disclosed by them elsewhere,” Wilkinson’s team wrote. “Ms. Wilkinson’s counsel have a duty of candor to the Court and may be forced to point out information that undermines that premise.”

If Snyder is connected to the Donovan lawsuit, that could be seen as a sign that he was attempting to impede the Wilkinson investigation, even while publicly promising full access.

For now, though, details remain scant, as virtually all of the filings associated with the case remain under seal, and the NFL has maintained that it hasn’t received Wilkinson’s final report.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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