The New Orleans Saints accept they offered advice to the city’s Archdiocese on how best to handle public relations for litigation on claims of sexual abuse made against members of its clergy, but refute suggestions they have tried to conceal information.
Reports emerged on Friday that attorneys for around two dozen men suing the church accused the NFL franchise of aiding the Archdiocese of New Orleans to conceal alleged crimes from members of its clergy.
The Saints responded to those accusations via a team statement, insisting they are “offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy” and explained they advised the Archdiocese to be transparent in its approach.
“While there is current litigation relative to the New Orleans Archdiocese and clergy sex abuse, our comments are limited only to the scope of our involvement,” the statement read.
“The New Orleans Saints organisation has always had a very strong relationship with the Archdiocese.
“The Archdiocese reached out to a number of community and civic minded leaders seeking counsel on handling the pending media attention that would come with the release of the clergy names in November of 2018.
“Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints, was contacted and offered input on how to work with the media. The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted.
“The New Orleans Saints, Greg Bensel and (owner) Mrs. Gayle Benson were and remain offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy. We remain steadfast in support of the victims who have suffered and pray for their continued healing.”
The reports claimed the Saints are trying to take action to shield more than 200 e-mails, but the team insisted they are not attempting to conceal information.
“Further, the Saints have no interest in concealing information from the press or public,” the statement added.
“At the current discovery stage in the case of Doe v. Archdiocese, the Saints, through their counsel, have merely requested the court to apply the normal rules of civil discovery to the documents that the Saints produced and delivered to Mr. Doe’s counsel.
“Until the documents are admitted into evidence at a public trial or hearing in the context of relevant testimony by persons having knowledge of the documents and the events to which they pertain, the use of the documents should be limited to the parties to the case and their attorneys.
“If admitted into evidence of the case, the documents and the testimony pertaining to them will become part of the public record of the trial of the case.”