Jan 24, 2020

New Orleans Saints fight to block emails allegedly linked to Catholic abuse scandal

Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The NFL's New Orleans Saints are fighting in court to block the public release of emails that allegedly show team executives assisting the Archdiocese of New Orleans with public relations work regarding its role in the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis, AP reports.

The state of play: The attorneys for a group of men suing the archdiocese for alleged abuse claim in a filing that 276 emails obtained via discovery show that executives for the team — owned by Gayle Benson, a devout Catholic — helped the New Orleans arm of the church with its "pattern and practice of concealing its crimes."

  • The AP filed its own motion in the case, arguing that the emails should be released as a matter of public interest.
  • "This case does not involve intensely private individuals who are dragged into the spotlight, but well-known mega-institutions that collect millions of dollars from local residents to support their activities," said the AP's filing.

What they're saying ... The Saints issued a statement to Axios:

"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 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.
"Further, the Saints have no interest in concealing information from the press or public.  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."
  • Attorneys representing the men suing the archdiocese said in their own filing, "The Saints realize that if the documents at issue are made public, this professional sports organization also will be smearing itself."

Go deeper...AP: Over 900 clergy accused of child sexual abuse absent from dioceses' lists

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Pennsylvania diocese files for bankruptcy amid sexual abuse lawsuits

Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The Diocese of Harrisburg became the first in Pennsylvania to seek bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Pennsylvania influenced a series of investigations into Catholic dioceses across the country when state Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a grand jury inquiry into six dioceses, including Harrisburg, in mid-2018.

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Victims' rights Attorney Jeff Anderson speaks to media during a press conference on April 23, 2019. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images

The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection this week with the sole purpose of relieving the legal pressure it faces from sexual abuse victims.

Why it matters: Bankruptcy means that a judge will put a ceiling on how much BSA will pay to victims. The proceedings could limit the degree to which local councils' billions of dollars' worth of assets can be awarded to victims.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy

Photo: Al Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware early on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The Chapter 11 filing comes as the 110-year-old youth organization faces mounting legal costs from multiple sexual abuse lawsuits and declining membership.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 18, 2020 - Economy & Business