A former Washington Commanders employee on Thursday accused Tony Wyllie, the president of Special Olympics for North America, of sexually harassing female employees during his time as one of the NFL team’s senior executives.
Ana Nunez, who worked in the football team’s sales office for four years, spoke at a roundtable on Capitol Hill held by the House Committee on Oversight, which is investigating whether the NFL has helped cover up the true extent of the sprawling sexual harassment scandal in the Washington, D.C., team’s organization.
Nunez said she endured harassment from multiple executives, including “the senior vice president of communications,” in 2017. Nunez did not name the executive, but Wyllie held that position from 2010 to 2019, when he joined the Special Olympics as the North American regional president.
Nunez said the executive had “a reputation for making inappropriate comments about female colleagues’ attire and their bodies” and was “so high up in the organization that we were afraid to say anything.”
An attorney for Wyllie did not directly dispute the allegation. “Mr. Wyllie came there in 2010, left under good circumstances, and at this time we’re not going to say anything more,” said Ken Bynum, an attorney for Wyllie. “He’s a topline professional and left of his own accord.” Bynum added that neither the House committee nor attorneys for Nunez have reached out to him.
Rebecca Simon, the communications director for Special Olympics, said only that “Special Olympics confirms our employee’s conduct has not been called into question during his employment at Special Olympics or during the hiring process.”
A lawyer for Nunez did not respond to a request for further comment.
Nunez alleged that the high-ranking executive once came up to her desk and made a “very inappropriate” comment about the jeans she was wearing. She also said he had a reputation for making sexualized comments with impunity. “He did this in front of everyone, and no one seemed to care,” she said.
Nunez alleged that when another unnamed executive harassed her with lewd text messages, the team had “no real HR” to turn to. “Unless you have money, unless you have power, honestly, unless you are white, you are powerless, you don’t matter.”
Wyllie’s name has not previously come up in connection to the team’s spiraling sexual harassment scandal. During his tenure of nearly a decade, he was influential in steering the Washington team’s crisis response when it became the target of a campaign to change its former name, which was a slur for Native Americans. The current name, the Commanders, was announced Tuesday.
In Wyllie’s current role, he is in charge of strategic direction and operations, and of expanding the scale of Special Olympics programming in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.
He left the team in 2019, a year before a series of Washington Post investigations leveled accusations that executives, including team owner Dan Snyder, had incubated a workplace rife with sexual harassment. Former female employees said they were subjected to constant comments on their bodies and appearances. In one case, an executive was accused of having a lewd video made out of moments in which the team’s cheerleaders, during a calendar photo shoot, had accidentally exposed their nipples, an allegation which the executive denied.
Later on in 2020, Snyder fired many of the front office executives implicated by the scandal in an apparent attempt to control the crisis.
The congressional roundtable on Thursday was aimed at forcing the NFL to disclose its role in managing the fallout from the Post’s revelations, and those who gave statements tried to link Snyder more definitively to the team’s toxic workplace culture. Another former employee, Tiffani Johnston, alleged for the first time that Snyder had groped her leg at a work event and afterward had attempted to push her into his limo.
“Under Dan Snyder’s leadership, women were used as sex objects and tools to increase sales, rather than dignified human beings,” she said.