NFL’s Saints fight to shield emails in Catholic abuse crisis

NFL’s Saints fight to shield emails in Catholic abuse crisis
Saints attorneys dispute any suggestion the team helped cover up crimes and say the documents were intended to be private. (Source: AP)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE/AP) - The New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

Attorneys for several men suing the church say 276 documents they obtained through discovery show the NFL team aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.”

Saints attorneys dispute any suggestion the team helped cover up crimes and say the documents were intended to be private.

“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 Saints said in a statement.

The team said the advice was “simple and never wavering.” They told the archdiocese to be direct, open and fully transparent, according to the Saints.

“The New Orleans Saints, Greg Bensel and Mrs. Gayle Benson were and remain offended, disappointed and repulsed by the actions of past clergy,” the statement said.

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.

Copyright WVUE 2020. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.