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New Orleans Saints fight to shield emails between team, church in Catholic sex abuse case (1 Viewer)

FreeBaGeL

Footballguy
The perfect encapsulation of our "Twitterverse"

Get a salacious headline out there, the "outrage mob" wag their fingers of shame (just reading the headline, not bothering to dig deeper), the real story comes out with....you know....the facts, and the finger-waggers go find something else to be outraged about.

Fake news.

Good work Doug B.


Church: Can you give us some advice on our media response?

Saints: "Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted.”

Talk about dastardly!
Well if this isn't just the most on the nose example of the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is.

 

FreeBaGeL

Footballguy
I mean, if you asked him man-to-man ... he would concede that he doesn't have "the goods" in his hand right this minute.

And since the plaintiffs' lawyers seem to address the media fairly freely ... Mustian can quote them at length and make them sound to the reader as sources of rock-hard unassailable fact, as opposed to what the attorneys really are -- sources of accusation. If the attorneys, indeed, truly have "the goods" in their hands ... go win the court case and put the Archdiocese and the Saints over a barrel. But don't expect the court to allow the media to do a bunch of heavy lifting for you in advance of the trial.

Your case is that good? Take it to trial and win.
Isn't that what they're doing?  I mean this isn't just a statement.  It's a statement alongside a trial.

I totally agree with you. This is a calculated move by the prosecution to win the case in the public rather than in court. But, in fairness to them, they are up against a beloved entity with a ton of power. That's daunting, and they probably figured out the first rule of media conflict: If you're the underdog in a fight, you want to take your case to the media or public or you'll get steamrolled.

I'm just spitballing here. Your point about the source of the information being as partial as one can be. 
We are all certainly not so naive to believe that a court and all its holes and settlements and blocked evidence and blocked witnesses are far from the end all/be all on what public perception should be.  We are seeing that at the very highest level of this country right now and have seen it thousands of times before.  Surely you don't think OJ's trial or the impeachment trial should just all have been behind closed doors with no public account of it and simply a guilty or not guilty verdict shared to the public in the end?

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Isn't that what they're doing?  I mean this isn't just a statement.  It's a statement alongside a trial.
Regarding getting the emails released to the public in advance of the civil trial? That's not part of the trial at all, so I would answer "no".

 

rockaction

Footballguy
We are all certainly not so naive to believe that a court and all its holes and settlements and blocked evidence and blocked witnesses are far from the end all/be all on what public perception should be.  We are seeing that at the very highest level of this country right now and have seen it thousands of times before.  Surely you don't think OJ's trial or the impeachment trial should just all have been behind closed doors with no public account of it and simply a guilty or not guilty verdict shared to the public in the end?
I'm assuming by the bolded you mean "public consumption" or that which is available to the public.  I just want to get straight the terms with which we proceed. If I have mistaken your wording, please correct me. But assuming that, I think the discovery will become public as introduced into trial. That's my understanding; therefore, your sentiment, shared by many including myself about the trials you mention, is a bit misplaced. We'll get to see the emails in due time and in real time. The defendants just aren't going to want an information dump that colors public perception before the actual trial begins. Both O.J. and the impeachment trial were handled in real time. As a matter of fact, in the impeachment trial, it was indeed that public testimony (evidence) was to be kept private. Namely, Bolton's testimonial evidence will not be public except for his own release of his book.

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
And now the Times-Picayune/Advocate has published an independent piece.

The [plaintiff's] 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, purports 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 Giselson.
(cribbing from myself elsewhere)

What do we think now? Was it incumbent on Greg Bensel to keep the Archdiocese at arm's length? Or was it OK for him to make suggestions to keep the Archdiocese in a positive media light? Is it Bensel's status as a Saints' employee that is the problem -- IOW, if he were a PR freelancer working for hire, would it be more OK for him to help the Archdiocese?

It's getting harder and harder to see Bensel survive this.

I am wondering if it makes any kind of sense for the Saints to release the emails themselves and just withstand whatever blowback results. Right now, the plaintiff's attorneys are completely controlling the story. It's getting to where the Saints need to be 100% sure those emails don't look anywhere close to as bad as the plaintiffs' counsel is saying.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Doug B said:
And now the Times-Picayune/Advocate has published an independent piece.

(cribbing from myself elsewhere)

What do we think now? Was it incumbent on Greg Bensel to keep the Archdiocese at arm's length? Or was it OK for him to make suggestions to keep the Archdiocese in a positive media light? Is it Bensel's status as a Saints' employee that is the problem -- IOW, if he were a PR freelancer working for hire, would it be more OK for him to help the Archdiocese?

It's getting harder and harder to see Bensel survive this.

I am wondering if it makes any kind of sense for the Saints to release the emails themselves and just withstand whatever blowback results. Right now, the plaintiff's attorneys are completely controlling the story. It's getting to where the Saints need to be 100% sure those emails don't look anywhere close to as bad as the plaintiffs' counsel is saying.
From the article you linked:

"...the NFL franchise's higher-ups helped determine who should be included on the list, going “beyond public relations.”

 That phrase is plural.  I don't think it only pertains to Greg Bensel going off the reservation. 

Either the e-mails contain something or they don't. 

The team says they contain nothing so they should vindicate themselves by releasing them especially if they contain nothing self-incriminating.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
The team says they contain nothing so they should vindicate themselves by releasing them especially if they contain nothing self-incriminating.
You don't know the legal ramifications of the release of the documents. Why should they release them other than to satisfy someone who already has their mind made up based on plaintiff's counsel's claims? There's no advantage legally in doing so, so don't. It's obvious counsel is trying to try the case through the media to guys like you who bite at it and eat it up. It's like talking to a cop when you're a person of interest. You just don't do it. Never talk to cops, never release anything you don't have to. Simple as that. It's also a potential privacy issue rather than a cover your ### one, too. Those are personal communications, and thus, they're sensitive. You can cite Boswell and Johnson all you want but it's irrelevant to the case at hand. If only epigraphs covered all the legal issues, you'd be set. But they don't, so you'll likely have to sit tight.  

 

FreeBaGeL

Footballguy
Doug B said:
And now the Times-Picayune/Advocate has published an independent piece.

(cribbing from myself elsewhere)

What do we think now? Was it incumbent on Greg Bensel to keep the Archdiocese at arm's length? Or was it OK for him to make suggestions to keep the Archdiocese in a positive media light? Is it Bensel's status as a Saints' employee that is the problem -- IOW, if he were a PR freelancer working for hire, would it be more OK for him to help the Archdiocese?

It's getting harder and harder to see Bensel survive this.

I am wondering if it makes any kind of sense for the Saints to release the emails themselves and just withstand whatever blowback results. Right now, the plaintiff's attorneys are completely controlling the story. It's getting to where the Saints need to be 100% sure those emails don't look anywhere close to as bad as the plaintiffs' counsel is saying.
It's possible but seems unlikely the plaintiffs would be making these claims about what the emails say if they don't actually say it.   Seems like a waste of time if we're just going to see them eventually and that stuff isn't there.

I do wonder if that's the reason they are pushing to get the emails released early, because they are worried about the Bensel's and all their money/lawyers figuring out some court room shenanigans to make some of the emails redacted or inadmissable.

 
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Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Why should they release them
Going on the assumption they are telling the truth and the e-mails contain nothing self incriminating. 

The PR department knows the advantage of getting out in front of a story.

Absolutely no reason why they should not release the e-mails if they are telling the truth since they would hold a great advantage.  

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Absolutely no reason why they should not release the e-mails if they are telling the truth since they would hold a great advantage.  
You keep saying this and I keep telling you they're in the middle of a trial and it might mean a ton to release the emails legally. It also is an issue of compulsion and privacy. I'm not sure what part of that in my explicit four posts you're missing.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
You keep saying this and I keep telling you they're in the middle of a trial and it might mean a ton to release the emails legally. It also is an issue of compulsion and privacy. I'm not sure what part of that in my explicit four posts you're missing.
Are the Saints or the church involved in a trial for pedophilia?  The Saints must have gotten subpoena for production of evidence.

They claim the evidence is benign and cherry picked parts to prove the have nothing to hide.  We should agree and let them prove it instead of relying on a PR team to release partial truths let them release the entire truth.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Are the Saints or the church involved in a trial for pedophilia?  The Saints must have gotten subpoena for production of evidence.

They claim the evidence is benign and cherry picked parts to prove the have nothing to hide.  We should agree and let them prove it instead of relying on a PR team to release partial truths let them release the entire truth.
Have they cherry picked parts of the emails to release? That would color my opinion a bit, for sure. 

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I actually can, even now, speculate and come up with non-contrived scenarios where Bensel & staff's PR work with the archdiocese was still generally on the up and up (despite the optics).

Generally, to me ... as long as there weren't any communications along the lines of:

      "That priest is one of Gayle's friends ... please consider leaving him off the initial list."

... then Bensel's services to the Archdiocese shouldn't necessarily be considered any more wrong than those of any other private PR professional's.

...

Plaintiff's counsel, in their second filing yesterday, asserted that Bensel contacted the Archdiocese first to offer PR advice -- and that some of that advice concerned the contents of the list of 57 (see upthread).

Given that: perhaps the Archdiocese, early on, shared an internally-devised strategy to publish a narrow list (with a bunch of fishy 'outs') in an attempt to mitigate the fallout ... but instead that Bensel advised them to cast a wider net, be more forthcoming, keep copious records so that all names included or left off could be defended either way, etc.

Beyond that, any advice about messaging, how to handle press conferences, publishing positive-news press releases, etc. ... I would think that is fine by the "Can a private PR professional be sanctioned for doing same?" standard.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Are the Saints or the church involved in a trial for pedophilia?
Strictly, no to both.

When individual priests get charged, they as individuals go to trial. Not the entire Catholic Church as an entity, not the Archdiocese. If their Church superiors get charged with concealing evidence, obstruction, perjury, etc. ... they also stand trial as individuals.

No one on the Saints is facing charges. No one on the Saints has to plead the 5th or anything like that. No one on the Saints has to worry about actual incrimination so far as I'm aware from the information known. The emails may embarrass the team, but no one will be charged from the contents therein.

...

The trial in which the plaintiff's attorneys and the AP are seeking pre-trial release of the e-mails is a civil trial. The plaintiffs are suing the Archdiocese for damages.

The deacon (?) that committed the rapes at the center of the civil trial, George Brignac, is facing charges in at least one criminal trial (and I think also a second one to come). Brignac's criminal trial(s) is/are a separate legal matter from the civil trial.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Have they cherry picked parts of the emails to release? That would color my opinion a bit, for sure. 
Email case is a reminder of how the Saints and archdiocese formed a close relationship

Court filings by the New Orleans Saints aim to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that show team executives helping the Archdiocese of New Orleans shape its messaging on the church’s clerical sex abuse crisis, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Within hours of the article’s publication, the Saints issued a statement defending themselves, saying the still-unreleased emails show club officials advised Archbishop Gregory Aymond — one of Saints owner Gayle Benson’s closest friends — to “be direct, open and transparent” in the November 2018 release of a list of local clergymen who had been credibly accused of molesting minors.
In an email exchange from Oct. 29, 2018, Bensel asked two archdiocesan officials whether they should tell a New Orleans Advocate reporter writing about the lawsuit that “we support a victim’s right to pursue a remedy through the courts.”

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah McDonald responded, “I don’t think we want to say we ‘support’ victims going to the courts but we certainly encourage them to come forward.” That exchange is part of the public record.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Within hours, the Saints PR team was getting in front of the story.  You get in front of negative stories to try and steer/control public opinion.   The other e-mails that are part of the public record had to come from the Saints.  Two parts of the 276 known e-mails which paint the Saints in a positive light have been released. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Email case is a reminder of how the Saints and archdiocese formed a close relationship

In an email exchange from Oct. 29, 2018, Bensel asked two archdiocesan officials whether they should tell a New Orleans Advocate reporter writing about the lawsuit that “we support a victim’s right to pursue a remedy through the courts.”

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah McDonald responded, “I don’t think we want to say we ‘support’ victims going to the courts but we certainly encourage them to come forward.” That exchange is part of the public record.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Within hours, the Saints PR team was getting in front of the story.  You get in front of negative stories to try and steer/control public opinion.   The other e-mails that are part of the public record had to come from the Saints.  Two parts of the 276 known e-mails which paint the Saints in a positive light have been released. 
That seems really like a rebuttal to the original splash accusation. I still think the Saints should hold off for legal and privacy concerns.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Email case is a reminder of how the Saints and archdiocese formed a close relationship

In an email exchange from Oct. 29, 2018, Bensel asked two archdiocesan officials whether they should tell a New Orleans Advocate reporter writing about the lawsuit that “we support a victim’s right to pursue a remedy through the courts.”

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah McDonald responded, “I don’t think we want to say we ‘support’ victims going to the courts but we certainly encourage them to come forward.” That exchange is part of the public record.
The particular part I'm quoting here was not a responsive cherry-picked leak from the Saints -- that came out in separate litigation that took place in 2019. Mustian mentions this in the article you linked in the OP, but doesn't give any details on the 2019 litigation (for instance, I can't tell if that litigation was an earlier part of an ongoing civil trial or a separate trial altogether).

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
That seems really like a rebuttal to the original splash accusation. I still think the Saints should hold off for legal and privacy concerns.
I think they should act in their own best interest and release the e-mails if they contain nothing.  

Or.

They should act within hours to cherry pick any part of e-mails that paint them in a positive light and get in front of the story.  Then fight tooth and nail to prevent self incriminatory evidence from being released if they have something to hide.

We see how they have acted.  Privacy concerns would be dealt by the court who would redact individual names.

I haven't seen any indication the Saints have acted in the best interest of the victims.  Just the church and themselves.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
The particular part I'm quoting here was not a responsive cherry-picked leak from the Saints -- that came out in separate litigation that took place in 2019. Mustian mentions this in the article you linked in the OP, but doesn't give any details on the 2019 litigation (for instance, I can't tell if that litigation was an earlier part of an ongoing civil trial or a separate trial altogether).
Wait, wait, wait.

You mean their are MORE trials where this evidence is being suppressed?   

How many?

 

FreeBaGeL

Footballguy
I actually can, even now, speculate and come up with non-contrived scenarios where Bensel & staff's PR work with the archdiocese was still generally on the up and up (despite the optics).

Generally, to me ... as long as there weren't any communications along the lines of:

      "That priest is one of Gayle's friends ... please consider leaving him off the initial list."

... then Bensel's services to the Archdiocese shouldn't necessarily be considered any more wrong than those of any other private PR professional's.

...

Plaintiff's counsel, in their second filing yesterday, asserted that Bensel contacted the Archdiocese first to offer PR advice -- and that some of that advice concerned the contents of the list of 57 (see upthread).

Given that: perhaps the Archdiocese, early on, shared an internally-devised strategy to publish a narrow list (with a bunch of fishy 'outs') in an attempt to mitigate the fallout ... but instead that Bensel advised them to cast a wider net, be more forthcoming, keep copious records so that all names included or left off could be defended either way, etc.

Beyond that, any advice about messaging, how to handle press conferences, publishing positive-news press releases, etc. ... I would think that is fine by the "Can a private PR professional be sanctioned for doing same?" standard.
Well personally I think anyone involving themselves in trying to help out with creating positive PR for an event that included raping kids and covering it up is kind of scummy from the get-go, doubly so if they're offering up that help on their own accord.  Of course I realize not everyone shares that sentiment and if that's all that comes of it there won't be much blowback.

Just reading even the "good" part of the exchange is gross, as the church's spokesperson bandies about whether the terminology of the word "support" is too harmful to the church while discussing the victims whose lives were ruined by them in the worst ways.  It's all just so gross to see them talking about how to minimize the damage of them raping kids in the same way a business would talk about minimizing the damage of a poor earnings quarter.

 
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rockaction

Footballguy
I think they should act in their own best interest and release the e-mails if they contain nothing.  

Or.

They should act within hours to cherry pick any part of e-mails that paint them in a positive light and get in front of the story.  Then fight tooth and nail to prevent self incriminatory evidence from being released if they have something to hide.

We see how they have acted.  Privacy concerns would be dealt by the court who would redact individual names.

I haven't seen any indication the Saints have acted in the best interest of the victims.  Just the church and themselves.
Sure. They've been brought to court by a party, why are they now in any way sympathetic to that party? They're trying to win. Best I know, LA is a civil law state. The judge is going to want those papers, and then they'll be public. It doesn't seem like the Saints should be coordinating with the other side to release documents publicly before or during the trial. It might not be under adversarial law, but I'm sure there are strictures on the plaintiff and defense team working together, at least ethically and spiritually.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Now ... I am going to engage in some cherry-picking to make a point. The following are two sections from the plaintiffs' lawyers January 24th filing:

“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 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.

...

I think their wording reached way too far.

Regarding the first: Managing the PW of criminals engaged in pedophilia? The Saints PR staff weren't managing George Brignac's PR. And the entirety of the Archdiocese was not and is not "criminals engaged in pedophilia". You can't play fast and loose with words like that in a legal filing. Those associated with the Archdiocese, excluding those facing credible accusations and/or charges, have a right to seek public-relations advice and it is moral for them to do so. And PR professionals can provide such advice without it being prima facie immoral or wrong. The specifics matter.

Regarding the second: The Saints did not conceal anyone's crimes so that criminal behavior went undiscovered. Indeed, the reverse is the case -- George Brignac's crimes were in fact discovered and he is facing charges. Same goes for dozens of others credibly accused at the Archdiocese level. So ... what exactly did the Saints "join in" on? The plaintiffs' attorneys will have to make their case and prove it rather than just assert it in a filing.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Wait, wait, wait.

You mean their are MORE trials where this evidence is being suppressed?   

How many?
Show your work. Or wait for the trial and see what the plaintiffs' counsel can establish.

Evidence being suppressed? You don't think that's a massive leap from what's currently publicly known? If you're speculating, OK ... just be clear about it.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I think they should act in their own best interest and release the e-mails if they contain nothing. 
The Saints are not party to the suit. At all.

That means the Saints' self-interest takes a back seat to the self-interest (in court) of the Archdiocese. So the team's officials have to sit on the hot seat for however long until the trial decides things in one direction or another. Or else the Archdiocese settles and seals everything.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
The Saints are not party to the suit. At all.

That means the Saints' self-interest takes a back seat to the self-interest (in court) of the Archdiocese. So the team's officials have to sit on the hot seat for however long until the trial decides things in one direction or another. Or else the Archdiocese settles and seals everything.
Ohhhh. Then disregard my comments upthread. I had assumed they were a party. Since they're not a party than the legal analysis I keep talking about is definitely in play for the Archdiocese. The Saints really don't have the right to release confidential emails, likely. This whole thing reeks of bluster now. 

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Sure. They've been brought to court by a party, why are they now in any way sympathetic to that party? They're trying to win. Best I know, LA is a civil law state. The judge is going to want those papers, and then they'll be public. It doesn't seem like the Saints should be coordinating with the other side to release documents publicly before or during the trial. It might not be under adversarial law, but I'm sure there are strictures on the plaintiff and defense team working together, at least ethically and spiritually.
LA state law has holdovers from Spanish Civil Codex Romano and French Code Napoleon codes from before the Louisiana purchase.  No clue how that specifically pertains to this civil trial but they do business different from all other states, see they are the only state not to enact the UCC.  

The Saints claim to have SOP for releasing e-mails and it has nothing to do with anything other than the standard they arbitrarily set.

The club also argued that it was fighting the release of the emails — which turned up during the discovery phase of a sex-abuse lawsuit — because it is standard for such documents to remain confidential until they have been admitted as evidence at a trial.
IOWs they are never going to release them until they are forced to and made public in a trial.  

They must have successfully fought release in the other trial(s) but this guy does not sound like he's settling out of court.  

No matter the outcome this is going to appellate court.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Well personally I think anyone involving themselves in trying to help out with creating positive PR for an event that included raping kids and covering it up is kind of scummy from the get-go, doubly so if they're offering up that help on their own accord.  Of course I realize not everyone shares that sentiment and if that's all that comes of it there won't be much blowback.

Just reading even the "good" part of the exchange is gross, as the church's spokesperson bandies about whether the terminology of the word "support" is too harmful to the church while discussing the victims whose lives were ruined by them in the worst ways.  It's all just so gross to see them talking about how to minimize the damage of them raping kids in the same way a business would talk about minimizing the damage of a poor earnings quarter.
Yeah, the other people are not worth talking to at this point.  

You get it.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
The Saints really don't have the right to release confidential emails, likely. This whole thing reeks of bluster now. 
I'd say they have the right to do so, but aren't going to throw the Archdiocese under the bus. The Saints leadership DEFINITELY doesn't think of the entire Archdiocese as some ruined entity from top to bottom that deserves to be burned to the ground.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
LA state law has holdovers from Spanish Civil Codex Romano and French Code Napoleon codes from before the Louisiana purchase.  No clue how that specifically pertains to this civil trial but they do business different from all other states, see they are the only state not to enact the UCC.  

The Saints claim to have SOP for releasing e-mails and it has nothing to do with anything other than the standard they arbitrarily set.

IOWs they are never going to release them until they are forced to and made public in a trial.  

They must have successfully fought release in the other trial(s) but this guy does not sound like he's settling out of court.  

No matter the outcome this is going to appellate court.
I do indeed know that. I graduated from law school. First thing you learn is that LA does not apply. In civil law trials, production is not adversarial and the judge works with the lawyers regarding what to admit. It seeks truth in a different way than the adversarial system does by making the judge a facilitator to a degree. What that means in the nuts and bolts of things I do not know. 

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
[The Saints] are never going to release them until they are forced to and made public in a trial.  
No problem with this at all. I don't think the public has a right to view the team's emails any old time UNLESS they are needed as evidence in a criminal or civil trial. If you conceive of other exceptions, please feel free to make the case.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Unless it's been delayed ... a judgment regarding the public release of the Saints' emails should be coming out fairly soon. It was on Judge Ellen Hazeur's schedule this morning.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Just reading even the "good" part of the exchange is gross, as the church's spokesperson bandies about whether the terminology of the word "support" is too harmful to the church while discussing the victims whose lives were ruined by them in the worst ways.
Go one level deeper in your analysis:

Bensel is suggesting to the Archdiocese that there is a benefit to the Archdiocese publicly saying that they support victims' rights to pursue remedies through the court system.

Archdiocese communications director Sarah McDonald then counters by writing: "I don't think we want to say we ‘support’ victims going to the courts but we certainly encourage them to come forward.

IMHO, Bensel and McDonald are not both rolling in the mud here -- but if someone wants to indict (not legally) McDonald based on this exchange, I won't disagree. McDonald's wording, isolated from context, is insensitive. It would have been far more insightful of McDonald to pick up the lead Bensel threw and go with it. Then again, her response was not a message meant for the public -- right or wrong, she was representing the Archdiocese there.

 
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dhockster

Footballguy
Ohhhh. Then disregard my comments upthread. I had assumed they were a party. Since they're not a party than the legal analysis I keep talking about is definitely in play for the Archdiocese. The Saints really don't have the right to release confidential emails, likely. This whole thing reeks of bluster now. 
Do you mean confidential in a legal sense? Like there is an NFL team/Catholic church privilege?

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Do you mean confidential in a legal sense? Like there is an NFL team/Catholic church privilege?
Heh. No, I don't think so. But I think any two party conversation...well, dang it. I don't really know that, do I. I'm guessing there are legal implications involved, but I don't know what. 

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Unless it's been delayed ... a judgment regarding the public release of the Saints' emails should be coming out fairly soon. It was on Judge Ellen Hazeur's schedule this morning.
I flubbed this a bit -- Judge Hazeur was actually rendering a judgment as to whether or not the AP's petition could move forward and be decided by a "special master" ( :shrug:  ). In any case, she decided today that it could move forward:

Judge Ellen Hazeur of Orleans Parish Civil District Court agreed the emails were of “public concern” and ordered a special master to determine next month whether the documents should be made public. That hearing was scheduled for Feb. 20.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
Link
 

Jim Mustian
@JimMustian

The hearing came as @SNAPNetwork sent a letter to @nflcommish calling on the league to intervene. "We implore you to use the power of your office to show that the NFL is an ally to survivors instead of the adversary that the  @Saints have been," the letter says.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
No problem with this at all. I don't think the public has a right to view the team's emails any old time UNLESS they are needed as evidence in a criminal or civil trial. If you conceive of other exceptions, please feel free to make the case.
As that was written the case was made.  

Go to link to read story.

Judge Allows AP to Be Heard in Dispute Over Saints Emails A judge has ruled The Associated Press may be heard in a court dispute over whether to release hundreds of confidential emails that detail the New Orleans Saints' behind-the-scenes public relations work to help area Roman Catholic leaders deal with a sexual abuse crisis.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MMQB take on the story.

What the Latest Allegations Mean for the Saints in the Clergy Child Sexual Abuse Case Attorneys representing an alleged victim claimed the Saints helped the Archdiocese identify which clergy members ought to be named on a so-called “Pedophile List.”

...what began as a “public relations campaign” would later “evolve into something much more.” To that point, Doe’s attorneys contend that the Saints played a transformative role in compiling the Pedophile List. This means, the attorneys maintain, that the Saints:

• Knew of the specific allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.

• Had supporting documentation of the alleged abuse.

• Made a judgment call about whether those allegations by a particular victim against a named priest were, in its opinion, legitimate enough to warrant being mentioned on the Pedophile List.

If Doe’s attorneys are accurate, the Saints’ involvement extended far beyond furnishing public relations advice and dispensing media strategies. This new depiction portrays the Saints as intricately enmeshed in substantive choices related to the identification of clergy suspected of committing sexual abuse.

The attorneys also charge that the Saints have failed to fully comply with the subpoena because, among other things, “not a single text message was produced.” The attorneys likewise maintain that the Saints have misled the public—and perhaps the NFL—as to its role and behavior during the controversy.

...the Saints are accused of “pressuring local news outlets to either run favorable stories about the Archbishop or feed radio programs a stream of Archdiocese favorable remarks.”

...the Saints would probably prefer that the Archdiocese reach a financial settlement with Doe (and with other purported victims) whereby Doe’s claims would be dropped and pretrial discovery would end. A settlement wouldn’t be unprecedented: the Archdiocese deployed that option with Brignac victims before. The longer the litigation goes, the greater the risk for the Saints that (1) sensitive emails and texts find their way into the hands of media and (2) Saints officials are forced to answer difficult questions while under oath about their relationship with the Archdiocese.
A judge agreed to hear the AP and then agreed the e-mails were "Of public concern."  

She ordered a special master to make the determination whether the e-mails should become public.  

The hearing is set for February 20.

 

Doug B

Footballguy
It's possible but seems unlikely the plaintiffs would be making these claims about what the emails say if they don't actually say it.   Seems like a waste of time if we're just going to see them eventually and that stuff isn't there.
Right now, what I'm clinging to is that Bensel & Company's actions are interpretable -- that what the plaintiff's attorneys are doing is just barely stretching the truth a bit and offering the absolute most negative interpretation of events possible in their filings.

Here's a speculative example. Let's consider two scenarios where Greg Bensel and Sara McDonald (Archdiocese PW) are in a meeting together working through a list of "on the bubble" names.
 

Scenario A:
McDonald: Now Greg, Father X was credibly accused in 1990. We investigated him internally for three years, but then his accuser recanted and said that he was mistaken after so much time had passed, and that it was actually another priest -- one that was convicted in 2012. Should Father X still be on the list?
 
Bensel: No, Sarah ... with Father X, it looks like the circumstances support him being left off the list unless any more accusers comes forward.
 
 
Scenario B:
McDonald: Now Greg, Father X was credibly accused in 1990. We investigated him internally for three years and have come to believe that Father X is likely guilty of what he was accused of doing ...
 
Bensel: Sarah, let me stop you right there -- Father X was an old friend of Tom Benson from the 7th Ward days. Surely you can do Ms. Benson a favor and just leave Father X's name to the side for right now. If someone brings up charges, we can change course and add him to a future release. OK?
Now, to me ... if the emails reveal that a lot of things like Scenario A were going on, then IMHO it's not particularly troubling for Bensel and the Saints. That's basically technical advice as opposed to cherry-picking names.

If, on the other hand, a lot of things like Scenario B was going on ... that's a problem to say the least.

.

 
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Doug B

Footballguy
Now the plaintiff's attorneys are casting an even wider net.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys — John Denenea, Richard Trahant and Soren Gisleson — purport that the emails in question show the Saints communicated with other unspecified influential New Orleanians about the church's managing “the fallout” from the sex abuse crisis.

Citing an anonymous source, WVUE-TV reported Wednesday that businessman John Georges, who owns The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate with his wife, Dathel, “may have participated in behind the scenes communications involving” the archdiocese's November 2018 release of a list of clergymen who had been credibly accused of abuse. 

In a brief interview with WVUE-TV, Georges said the station’s source was “wrong.”
Can't wait for the court proceedings.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
The plaintiffs’ attorneys — John Denenea, Richard Trahant and Soren Gisleson — purport that the emails in question show the Saints communicated with other unspecified influential New Orleanians about the church's managing “the fallout” from the sex abuse crisis.

Citing an anonymous source, WVUE-TV reported Wednesday that businessman John Georges, who owns The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate with his wife, Dathel, “may have participated in behind the scenes communications involving” the archdiocese's November 2018 release of a list of clergymen who had been credibly accused of abuse. 

In a brief interview with WVUE-TV, Georges said the station’s source was “wrong.”
Can't wait for the court proceedings.
The Times-Picayune that has been reporting the story.

They reported an anonymous source leaked information to the local  FOX station that broadcasts Saint games accusing one of the Picuyune owners was implicated and said the anonymous source was wrong.

The Times-Picayune has not been attempting to hide e-mails nor has it tried to block the media from the hearing but in fact filed a motion stating the public's constitutional right to access to the hearing should make the hearing open to the media.

Previous reports stated the Archdiocese and the Saints were putting forth stories painting them in a positive light and discrediting stories that were negative.

One side has done everything to put forth the story and we see the response.

I want to see and hear the court proceedings.  They should be made public as should the e-mails. 

 

Doug B

Footballguy
I want to see and hear the court proceedings.  They should be made public as should the e-mails. 
The trial itself is and always was going to be public. There seem to be some narrower hearings in advance of the trial, though ... I guess in response to various motions submitted to the court.

Meanwhile ...

 Saints/Archdiocese emails: Judge allows WWL-TV, other media in court
The media's request to be present in court next week was approved Thursday morning.

...

Civil District Court Judge Ellen Hazeur granted that request, ruling that it was a "matter of significant public concern." Hazeur added that the emails are still protected and attorneys should be "careful" in the way they present their arguments.

"Any attempt to reveal the content of these emails will be sanctioned," Hazeur warned.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
How long before we expect a ruling?  

New Orleans Saints: No ruling in Thursday hearing on releasing emails to church

...A particular grasp overseeing the continuing was not anticipated to rule instantly....
I thought the special 'master' had plenty of time to go through the material when she was announced weeks ago.  

How long before she makes her ruling?

EDIT:  What does this mean?

New Orleans Saints, Catholic Church fight to block emails linked to sex abuse Victims claim the NFL team helped to cover for suspected priests.

...It's not yet known when the special master's decision will be rendered, according to the AP.

Kevin Bourgeois, the New Orleans leader of "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests," or SNAP, told ABC News he was unsure which outcome to expect.

"This is New Orleans politics," he said, "so anything can happen."
During Catrina, corruption was rampant.  Is that what this was hinting at?

 
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Ilov80s

Footballguy
How long before we expect a ruling?  

New Orleans Saints: No ruling in Thursday hearing on releasing emails to church

I thought the special 'master' had plenty of time to go through the material when she was announced weeks ago.  

How long before she makes her ruling?

EDIT:  What does this mean?

New Orleans Saints, Catholic Church fight to block emails linked to sex abuse Victims claim the NFL team helped to cover for suspected priests.

During Catrina, corruption was rampant.  Is that what this was hinting at?
New Orleans is famously corrupt, hurricane or no hurricane. 

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Boy they are going to get away with burying the story because it has gone away after the judge announced she had appointed a special master who made no decision.

Look at the photo of the Church and Saint lawyers as they left that hearing.  See the smirks on the faces.  Like child molesters who got away with it. 

NFL Saints backed by church to keep emails secret

Look at the smug smirking smile on the lawyer for the church?  This story has certainly gotten burred. 

So strange that a multi billion dollar NFL industry and a multi trillion dollar church get a special master who makes no decision and the story magically goes away.  Gosh I wonder how that happened. :confused:

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
Saints emails advising Archdiocese on sex abuse crisis should stay secret, court official recommends

A trove of emails between the New Orleans Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans regarding the clergy sex abuse crisis should remain shielded from public view, a court official recommended Thursday.

Retired judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, who is serving as a court special master in a civil case brought by an alleged victim of clergy abuse, wrote in her recommendation that the release of the emails would unduly “embarrass or bring public scrutiny to the Saints organization for supporting the Archdiocese.”

Gill-Jefferson heard arguments on the matter on Feb. 20, but Civil District Court Judge Ellen Hazeur will make the final ruling. It is not yet known when Hazeur will rule.

...Through discovery, the plaintiff's attorneys obtained hundreds of emails between Saints brass, archdiocesan officials and other local dignitaries — communications which were placed under an order of confidentiality at the request of the Saints and the church.

The Associated Press intervened in the case and requested that those emails be made public.

...At the Feb. 20 hearing, Gill-Jefferson said she had "no idea” what the emails contained, outside of attorneys’ arguments referring to them. She said she had deferred such a review until hearing the parties’ arguments about whether the communications should be public.

Thursday’s recommendation gave no indication as to whether Gill-Jefferson has since read the emails.

...“This case deserved the openness and transparency that will better protect children and support survivors, not concerns about the reputations of the powerful,” the statement said. “We hope the judge will reject the … recommendation and instead release the emails to the public.”
I didn't realize the judge had not and still may not have bothered to read the e-mails and that the 'special master' only issued a recommendation to not-release the e-mails and the judge may still release them.

 

SaintsInDome2006

Footballguy
Bracie Smathers said:
Retired judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, who is serving as a court special master in a civil case brought by an alleged victim of clergy abuse
CGJ isn’t exactly a raving conservative.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
CGJ isn’t exactly a raving conservative.
Political labels don't mean a thing when it comes to corruption.

Who could question whether this person would take money to look the other way.

a payment of almost a half-million dollars to Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, center, who worked less than four months on a class action suit

...The Louisiana Supreme Court has upheld a payment of almost a half-million dollars to a court-appointed lawyer who worked less than four months on a class action suit blaming the Housing Authority of New Orleans for the lead poisoning of its tenants. Several attorneys for the plaintiffs challenged the payment to Carolyn Gill-Jefferson, a former judge, saying it was excessive and undeserved...

...Gill-Jefferson's take contrasts with that of the 2,000 victims in the suit, whose average payment was $17,000.

...Gary Gambel, one of the nine plaintiff's attorneys, filed motions to reduce the payment, saying that Gill-Jefferson deserved no more than $30,000 for the work she performed.

The court had hired Gill-Jefferson, who was married to the late Bennie Jefferson, brother of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson
Good thing that sort of villainy doesn't run in the family or people might question how sexual predation can exist for decades because people get bought off.

William Jennings Jefferson (born March 14, 1947) is an American former politician from Louisiana whose career ended after his corruption scandal and conviction

...a federal grand jury indicted Jefferson on sixteen felony charges related to corruption, including bribery, racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and other offenses.

...Charges against relatives 

On May 22, 2009, Betty Jefferson, Mose Jefferson, Angela Coleman, and Mose's longtime companion, former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renée Gill Pratt, were indicted for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. On June 5, 2009, all the defendants pleaded not guilty. Their sister Brenda Jefferson Foster was serving as a witness in the government's case against them.[39] Mose Jefferson is also facing a separate trial on charges of bribing Orleans Parish School Board president Ellenese Brooks-Simms.[40] On July 28, 2009, United States federal judge Ivan L. R. Lemelle delayed the start of the racketeering trial to January 25, 2010.

On January 10, 2010, Mose Jefferson was convicted of bribery and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. On February 26, 2010, Betty Jefferson and Angela Coleman pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy. They were expected to testify for the government in the fraud and corruption trial against Mose Jefferson and Pratt.

 
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