Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder is suing an Indian media company for allegedly accepting payment in exchange for publishing defamatory rumors about him, The New York Times reported Friday.
Among the rumors was reportedly one that said Snyder was named on a list of sexual offenders maintained by Jeffrey Epstein.
According to The Times, in a lawsuit filed Friday in New Delhi and in federal court papers in California, news site Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide knowingly published false stories “designed to malign” Snyder. Some of the information allegedly came from anonymous posts on Reddit and other social news sites.
The story suggesting a tie between Snyder and Epstein included the caveat: “M.E.A. WorldWide cannot independently verify the claims or accusations being made on the internet.”
Snyder is seeking $10 million in damages and says he will donate proceeds recovered in the lawsuit to charity. According to his lawyer, Snyder “wants to identify if, and by whom, M.E.A. WorldWide was paid to publish articles.”
In an interview with The Times, M.E.A. WorldWide founder Nirnay Chowdhary acknowledged the stories about Snyder — which surfaced in mid-July and have since been removed — contained errors.
“We are going to be launching an internal investigation,” he said.
The stories alleged that Snyder was involved in sex trafficking and that his team’s minority owners were “looking at bringing him down citing inappropriate and unchaste behavior as one of the major reasons,” the lawsuit says, according to The Time.
Chowdhary added that the company “does not accept money in exchange for articles” and that his employees are being “harassed” by people asking them to reveal the source of the stories.
“They started asking us, ‘Who had paid you to write these articles? If you are not going to tell us the name, we are going to file a lawsuit,’” Chowdhary told The Times. “We have no name to give to them. This person does not exist.”
The M.E.A. WorldWide stories appeared as Snyder was facing criticism from a number of other sources. Most prominently, on July 16, The Washington Post released an investigation with allegations made by 15 female team employees and two media members of sexual misconduct and harassment from team officials over more than a decade.
While Snyder was not directly accused of misconduct, he is said to have fostered a “hostile” work environment.
Shortly before that story came out, Snyder announced that the team would drop its former “Redskins” moniker, a racist slur against Native Americans.
Snyder previously sued the Washington City Paper in 2010 over an unflattering story titled “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.” He eventually dropped the suit after seven months.
According to the new suit, Snyder is looking to “rectify the harm to his personal and professional reputation,” but “acknowledged that he and his team were ‘fair game for true and accurate coverage.’”