The New Orleans Saints are currently fighting the public release of emails from team executives to members of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. According to plaintiffs, those emails show members of the organization lending support and public relations advice to the church in the aftermath of an abuse scandal.
Via the Associated Press, which has also filed a motion arguing the release of the emails is in the public interest:
Attorneys for about two dozen men suing the church say in court filings that the 276 documents they obtained through discovery show that the NFL team, whose owner is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.”
“Obviously, the Saints should not be in the business of assisting the Archdiocese, and the Saints’ public relations team is not in the business of managing the public relations of criminals engaged in pedophilia,” the attorneys wrote in a court filing. “The Saints realize that if the documents at issue are made public, this professional sports organization also will be smearing itself.”
As to what kind of support the team allegedly offered:
Attorneys for the men suing the church say “multiple” Saints personnel, including Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel, used their team email to advise church officials on “messaging” and how to soften the impact of the archdiocese’s release of a list of clergy members “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.
“The information at issue bears a relationship to these crimes because it is a continuation of the Archdiocese’s pattern and practice of concealing its crimes so that the public does not discover its criminal behavior,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote. “And the Saints joined in.”
A Saints spokeswoman Friday said team officials had no comment.
The emails were apparently sent from official team addresses, using the @nfl.com domain, as well, which could mean the league ends up opening its own investigation.
The National Football League, which was advised of the matter by plaintiffs’ attorneys because the Saints’ emails used the team’s nfl.com domain, has not commented on the case. NFL policy says everyone who is a part of the league must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.
The entire AP report is worth reading, as it goes back to look at emails that have already come out as part of an earlier case. At some point, whether the emails are released or not (though they should be), the Saints are going to have to answer why they decided to do anything to assist given the facts of the abuse case.