Saints release statement about archdiocese sexual abuse scandal
The New Orleans Saints have landed themselves in some hot water heading into the offseason. It appears they are now doing what they can to usher in some damage control.
Saints ownership is reportedly set to go to court in order to keep from having to disclose their emails to Roman Catholic archdiocese. They have sine offered up a statement on the situation, via the team’s official website.
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 New Orleans Saints organization 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 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. 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.
The archdiocese is currently being sued by two dozen men for sexual abuse stemming from a case in 1988 in which schoolteacher and deacon George F. Brignac was accused of touching a seven-year-old boy and was soon followed by further accusations. Attorney’s claim that they have 276 documents the the Saints allegedly helped the church cover up for its crimes.
The documents are said to include e-mails from Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel regarding ways to lessen the fallout from releasing the list of clergy members that had been accused of sexual abuse. Team owner Gayle Benson is a devout Catholic and was known to have a close relationship with New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond and she has reportedly donated millions of dollars to such religious institutions in the New Orleans area.
The statement from the Saints appears to indicate that they do not plan on voluntarily revealing the contents of their e-mails with the archdiocese until it officially becomes evidence. Regardless, it is safe to say that any type of involvement with the ongoing court proceedings does not sit well with the NFL front office.