Posts Tagged ‘Coverup’

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Twice in the past week, the New Orleans Saints have said they merely told the Archdiocese of New Orleans to be transparent when local Catholic Church leaders came to them for public relations advice on releasing a roster of sexually abusive clergymen in November 2018.

But attorneys for an alleged abuse victim claim in a new court filing that hundreds of emails currently under seal show the NFL franchise’s higher-ups helped determine who should be included on the list, going “beyond public relations.”

The attorneys also assert that the available email exchanges show it was the Saints who went to the archdiocese first and offered their services — rather than the other way around.

The new motion, filed Thursday, claims those services included pitching “favorable stories” about the archdiocese and Archbishop Gregory Aymond to local news outlets, as well as drawing in other unspecified influential community members to help manage “the fallout” from the sex abuse crisis.

The arrangement “pre-dated the release of the pedophile list and continued far past the release,” said the filing from attorneys John Denenea, Richard Trahant and Soren Gisleson.

The archdiocese on Thursday issued a statement endorsing the Saints’ version of events.

“As any organization facing a major communications issue, the Archdiocese of New Orleans sought trusted (advice) in working with the media to release the Report on Clergy Abuse in 2018,” the statement said. “The role of the New Orleans Saints was limited to guidance in releasing this information to media, not to advise on the content of the report.”

The latest filing supports a motion from The Associated Press which argues that it is in the public interest for the emails to be unsealed, given the widespread community support both the Saints and the church receive.

As The AP first reported last week, the Saints and the archdiocese are seeking to maintain the confidentiality of the emails, which the plaintiff’s attorneys obtained through the discovery process.

Those attorneys allege that the real reason neither the archdiocese nor the Saints want the emails to be published is that they would show the two influential organizations were in lockstep in devising a list that the lawyers have long maintained is not complete.

The lawyers say that is the only impression that can be drawn from the emails, “unless the archdiocese and the Saints had withheld additional documents” from their client.

Thursday’s filing also alleges that the Saints “independently reached out (in a seemingly unsolicited manner) to the president of a local Catholic high school (which) also has been sued multiple times for child rape.” The filing doesn’t name the high school.

Attorneys for the Saints argue that they “have no interest in concealing information from the press or public” but want the judge to keep the emails under seal unless they are admitted as “evidence at a public trial or hearing in the context of testimony.” Those, the Saints argue, “are the normal rules of civil discovery.”

In statements on Jan. 24 and Wednesday, the Saints have denied the notion that they helped cover anything up.

With Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel as the point person, the team said it gave the archdiocese advice on how to release a list of nearly 60 priests and deacons who had been faced with credible accusations of molestation.

The advice included turning a full roster over to law enforcement and getting it to news media so that reporters had time to ask questions before publishing articles about it, the Saints said.

The Saints’ owner, Gayle Benson, has long been close to Aymond, who hardly left her side in the days after the March 2018 death of her husband, Tom Benson.

The current controversy stems from a pending lawsuit filed by a man who claims the archdiocese failed to protect him when, as an altar boy in the 1970s, he was molested by George Brignac, a suspected serial pedophile and former deacon who is currently under criminal indictment in a separate child-rape case. Brignac was included on the list of abusive clergy.

The Saints didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s court filing. In a statement on Wednesday, the Saints said their involvement should be applauded, not criticized.

“(It was) making sure there was full transparency, making sure that law enforcement was notified in advance and making sure that the full list of clergy was shared and that all credible evidence was unearthed,” the statement said of their advice.

A Civil District Court hearing set for Friday before Judge Ellen Hazeur will weigh The AP’s request to be heard on whether the emails should be unsealed.

Citing an anonymous league source, The Athletic reported Wednesday that the NFL does not plan to investigate the Saints’ dealings with the archdiocese for possible administrative discipline unless the emails are publicly disclosed and show “troublesome actions.”

WWE has issued a statement in response to allegations made by lawyer Konstantine Kyros, who has represented several former WWE Superstars in concussion lawsuits against the company, including the late Ashley Massaro. Kyros has published an affidavit by Massaro that includes her allegations on how she was treated while with the company. Massaro alleged that she was sexually assaulted while visiting troops with WWE in Kuwait back in 2006.

Massaro alleged that she was drugged and raped by a man posing as a US Army doctor while in Kuwait on a tour of a US military base. She said she was examined by a WWE doctor after returning from the trip, and that the doctor reported the incident to WWE officials. Massaro alleged that WWE officials called her into a meeting, to apologize, and to persuade “her that it would be best not to report it to appropriate authorities.” You can read all of her claims in the full affidavit via PDF by clicking here.

WWE’s statement to the media in response to the allegations reads:

WWE is saddened by the death of Ashley Massaro, and we reiterate our condolences to her family. However, we regret that her attorney Konstantine Kyros, who filed multiple cases against WWE, lost all of them, and was sanctioned multiple times by the Court for repeated misconduct and false allegations, is using Ashley’s death to further his malicious campaign against WWE by releasing an affidavit that she submitted to the Court and later apologized to WWE for being involved with, so we wish to make certain things crystal clear.

At no time was Vince McMahon or the management of WWE ever informed by Ashley Massaro or anybody else that she had been sexually assaulted, drugged, raped or sodomized by a military doctor with a nurse standing guard while on a goodwill tour in 2007 to U.S. military bases in Kuwait. In fact, if she ever articulated such a claim to WWE, we would have reported it immediately to the Base Commander.

At no time was there ever a meeting with Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John Laurinaitis or other company executives in which she told them of such a claim and was instructed to keep it quiet.

WWE recently revealed that Massaro e-mailed them back in October, a month after the lawsuit was dismissed, to apologize for joining the lawsuit. Below is WWE’s full statement with excerpts from Massaro’s e-mail:

Long after Ashley Massaro filed an affidavit, which WWE only learned of the contents after she passed away, Ashley sent an email to WWE on Oct. 20, 2018 – approximately one month after the Court dismissed all claims against WWE and sanctioned the lawyer who brought the suit against WWE, Konstantine Kyros, for repeated misconduct including pursuing false allegations. Below are a number of excerpts from her letter to WWE:

“I love WWE, you all were my family the whole time I was there…”

“The lawsuit got out of control very fast-I had been roped in by the lawyer representing the others…”

“I apologize that I was part of this class action suit and knew it was a bad idea but was convinced by the lawyer and I want to acknowledge that I should’ve contacted you guys before agreeing to be involved-i was basically poached. But I accept my part of the responsibility and just want to formerly apologize and express my regret.”

“You all changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful…”

“Can you express my sincerest regret to Vince, Stephanie, Hunter and Kevin Dunn.”

Massaro passed away last Thursday at the age of 39 after an apparent suicide by hanging. She would have turned 40 this coming weekend.