Lawyers for former Washington employees ask Roger Goodell for independent investigation

The NFL has chosen not to hire an independent lawyer to investigate the situation in Washington, deferring instead to the lawyer hired by the team to investigate itself. The NFL is hearing about that decision, internally and externally.

The Washington Post reports that, on Thursday, lawyers representing more than a dozen of the former employees who contend that they suffered sexual harassment while working for the team sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to investigate the situation on its own, and to suspend owner Daniel Snyder until the investigation has ended.

On Wednesday, the Post pushed from 15 to 40 the total number of former Washington employees who believe they were sexually harassed. Wednesday’s story also included a pair of allegations that implicate owner Daniel Snyder. He has denied that he asked a cheerleader in 2004 to accompany his friend to a hotel room so that they could “get to know each other better.” Snyder also has denied that revealing outtakes of cheerleader swimsuit videos were prepared for him.

The NFL issued a statement on Wednesday that condemned the alleged behavior, but that then reiterated that the league would defer to the investigation conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, who was hired by the team last month. Beyond the fact that she’s incapable of being truly objective and/or reaching conclusions that would make her ultimate client — Snyder — look bad and/or jeopardize his status as an owner, it will be difficult if not impossible for Wilkinson to persuade former employees to open up to her, given that: (1) she has no power to compel cooperation of former employees; and (2) she’s working for Snyder.

A truly independent investigation remains the best option. It’s astounding, frankly, that the league refuses to acknowledge that reality.