NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tues Saints of New Orleans went to court Thursday to block the release of hundreds of confidential emails detailing the behind-the-scenes outreach the team has been doing for the region’s Catholics archdiocese amid his sexual abuse crisis.
The request comes amid claims that the NFL team has joined the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a “pattern and practice” of covering up sexual abuse — a claim the Saints have vehemently denied.
Lawyers for about two dozen men suing the church say the emails show team officials had a say decide which priests named the archdiocese on a 2018 list of dozens of “plausibly accused” clergymen, a list an Associated Press analysis found was short by at least 20 names.
The Saints say their involvement was limited to a team leader To prepare church leaders for the publicity surrounding the list of credible defendants.
Retired Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson will hear arguments on Thursday and recommend whether the 276 documents in question should be released. She was appointed a “special master” in the dispute by a judge in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, who oversaw a lawsuit against the archdiocese over a longtime deacon accused of molesting schoolchildren decades ago.
The AP filed an application urge the publication of the e-mailswhich described the communication as a matter of “highest public concern”.
The news organization argued in court filings that the Saints and Church leaders have failed to prove the documents are confidential and that any privacy interests they have are “minimal compared to the public’s concerns about the role played by the Archdiocese and Saints.” played in directing public opinion. “
The Saints say they have nothing to hide but have asked Gill-Jefferson to use “the normal rules of civil investigation” in the lawsuit rather than allow the lawyers for the men who are suing the church to read the emails the process of “selective dissemination”. The team has said it does not oppose the emails being released at a later stage in the litigation.
“Saints’ request for confidentiality is not rooted in a desire to hide information,” Saints’ attorneys wrote in court filings last week.
Team owner Gayle Benson, a devout Catholic who donated millions of dollars for church causes, said last week she was proud of the role the team had played in supporting the archdiocese. The effort is part of an attempt to “heal the community.”
Benson, who inherited the team after the death of her husband Tom Benson in 2018, said the team’s senior vice president of communications advised Archbishop Gregory Aymond to be “honest, full and transparent” about clergy abuse.
But lawyers for the men suing the church said the saints and archdiocese misled the public about their coordination and the content of the emails.
They argued in court filings that the public has a right to know “whether this is an inappropriate relationship designed not only to mitigate the public relations fallout of the church’s sex abuse crisis, but also some of the underlying ones.” twisting facts”.