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NFL investigation backs up claims against former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

After a lengthy investigation, the NFL announced Thursday that allegations of workplace misconduct against former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson have been substantiated.

Richardson, alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment and inappropriate physical contact with at least four women employed by the franchise, has been fined $2.75 million by the NFL. That money will be used to support organizations addressing race- and gender-based issues and fund league-wide workplace training, the NFL said.

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Richardson, 81, removed himself from day-to-day operations of the club earlier this year, and the Panthers were sold last month to hedge fund manager David Tepper.

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson speaks during a news conference in 2013.
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson speaks during a news conference in 2013. (Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

The league’s investigation was conducted by former U.S. Atty. and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White, who did not seek to confirm or reject the details of each specific allegation made but, according to the NFL, “identified no information that would either discredit the claims made or that would undermine the veracity of the employees who have made those claims.”

Said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “I appreciate Mary Jo White’s careful and thorough examination of these issues, and her thoughtful recommendations to the Panthers and the entire NFL.

White found that the improper conduct was limited to Richardson and that no other team employees were alleged to have participated. She also determined that the Panthers did not report those allegations to the league office.

Among White’s recommendations to the league:

  • A specific prohibition on using non-disclosure agreements to limit reporting of potential violations or cooperation in league investigations under the NFL’s personal conduct policy;

  • A specific requirement that claims of workplace misconduct issues be reported to the league office under the personal conduct policy;

  • Establish a hotline or other system to allow league and club employees to report issues of workplace conduct on a confidential basis;

  • Review workplace best practices and policies with owners, club counsel and club human resource executives.

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