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


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Robert Craft getting  a hand job was glossed over.  This one should not get glossed over. 

This should get an  owner removed unless people accept NFL franchises helping to cover up pedophilia.  

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

Quote

 

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.

...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.”

...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.

A court-appointed special master is expected to hear arguments in the coming weeks on whether the communications should remain confidential.

...“This case does not involve intensely private individuals who are dragged into the spotlight,” the AP argued, “but well-known mega-institutions that collect millions of dollars from local residents to support their activities."

... a close friendship between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Gayle Benson, who inherited the Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team when her husband, Tom Benson, died in 2018. 

Gayle Benson has given millions of dollars to Catholic institutions in the New Orleans area, and the archbishop is a regular guest of hers at games and charitable events for the church.

...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.

...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...

 

Read the article, raping and fondling of children where the Saints help the church soften criminal acts and now want to cover up their role in the concealment. 

“Most people, if they know they have done wrong, foolishly suppose they can conceal their error by defending it, and finding a justification for it; but in my belief there is only one medicine for an evil deed, and that is for the guilty man to admit his guilt and show that he is sorry for it. Such an admission will make the consequences easier for the victim to bear, and the guilty man himself, by plainly showing his distress at former transgressions, will find good grounds of hope for avoiding similar transgressions in the future.”
― Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander

“They like to use those fancy words. They don't like to say “raped,'” he said. “They say “misdeed,' “inappropriate touching,' “mistake.' That's insulting. I'm not a mistake.”
― Charles L. Bailey Jr., In the Shadow of the Cross

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Ehh, Brees has been associated with the virulently anti-gay Christian group Focus on the Family, so the Saints ownership trying to help the Catholic church soften the charge of child rape and molestation doesn't come as much of a surprise to me.

Abuse and discrimination in the name of religion is part of the Saints' fiber.

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I don't think the OP, or the AP article's headline, is accurately representing what is going on. Here's a synopsis of what has come down do far, including the team's statement [from The Sporting News, uploaded earlier today]:

 

What are the allegations against the Saints?

[Plaintiff's attorneys] claim Saints executives, including senior vice president of communications Greg Bensel, used team email accounts to advise the archdiocese on how to handle the release of a list of clergy members who were "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 attorneys for the men wrote. "And the Saints joined in."

In an October 2018 email exchange revealed by the AP report, Bensel asked an archdiocese spokeswoman if there would be "a benefit to saying we support a victim's right to pursue a remedy through the courts." Sarah McDonald, the archdiocese's communications director, responded: "I don't think we want to say 'support' victims going to the courts, but we certainly encourage them to come forward."

Attorneys for the Saints disputed any claims that the organization had helped the archdiocese conceal crimes and argued the emails should not be "fodder for the public." The archdiocese is also looking to prevent the release of the emails.
 

What is the relationship between the Saints and the Catholic Church?

Saints owner Gayle Benson has a "close friendship" with Aymond, according to the AP. Aymond was "at Gayle Benson's side as she walked in the funeral procession" following the death of her husband and previous team owner, Tom Benson, in March 2018. Gayle Benson also became owner of the NBA's Pelicans after Tom Benson died.

Gayle Benson has "given millions of dollars" to local Catholic institutions, and Aymond is a "regular guest of hers at games and charitable events for the church," per the AP.

How did the Saints respond?

The Saints released the following statement on Jan. 24:

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 NFL has not yet publicly commented on the case.

Will the emails between the Saints and the Catholic Church become public?

A court-appointed special master will hear arguments on whether the communications between the Saints and the archdiocese should remain confidential. The Associated Press has filed a motion with the court supporting the release of these documents.

...

[Words below are Doug B's, not The Sporting News]

Something to note is that the e-mails in question are NOT concealed from the plaintiffs' attorneys -- they have the e-mails now. They were turned over to the plaintiffs' attorneys during discovery. What is at question is whether the e-mails should be made public before they are admitted into court (when that happens, they become public record). The AP is petitioning to have the e-mails released to them before they are introduced into court.

More may or may not drop in the near future. I believe that what is preventing this from becoming a big story right now is that there is no "there" there. Yet. There could be. But not now.

Edited by Doug B
added link, attempted to fix spoiler tag
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11 minutes ago, Doug B said:

I don't think the OP, or the AP article's headline, is accurately representing what is going on. Here's a synopsis of what has come down do far, including the team's statement [from The Sporting News, uploaded earlier today]:

 

  Hide contents

What are the allegations against the Saints?

[Plaintiff's attorneys] claim Saints executives, including senior vice president of communications Greg Bensel, used team email accounts to advise the archdiocese on how to handle the release of a list of clergy members who were "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 attorneys for the men wrote. "And the Saints joined in."

In an October 2018 email exchange revealed by the AP report, Bensel asked an archdiocese spokeswoman if there would be "a benefit to saying we support a victim's right to pursue a remedy through the courts." Sarah McDonald, the archdiocese's communications director, responded: "I don't think we want to say 'support' victims going to the courts, but we certainly encourage them to come forward."

Attorneys for the Saints disputed any claims that the organization had helped the archdiocese conceal crimes and argued the emails should not be "fodder for the public." The archdiocese is also looking to prevent the release of the emails.
 

What is the relationship between the Saints and the Catholic Church?

Saints owner Gayle Benson has a "close friendship" with Aymond, according to the AP. Aymond was "at Gayle Benson's side as she walked in the funeral procession" following the death of her husband and previous team owner, Tom Benson, in March 2018. Gayle Benson also became owner of the NBA's Pelicans after Tom Benson died.

Gayle Benson has "given millions of dollars" to local Catholic institutions, and Aymond is a "regular guest of hers at games and charitable events for the church," per the AP.

How did the Saints respond?

The Saints released the following statement on Jan. 24:

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 NFL has not yet publicly commented on the case.

Will the emails between the Saints and the Catholic Church become public?

A court-appointed special master will hear arguments on whether the communications between the Saints and the archdiocese should remain confidential. The Associated Press has filed a motion with the court supporting the release of these documents.

Something to note is that the e-mails in question are NOT concealed from the plaintiffs' attorneys -- they have the e-mails now. They were turned over to the plaintiffs' attorneys during discovery. What is at question is whether the e-mails should be made public before they are admitted into court (when that happens, they become public record). The AP is petitioning to have the e-mails released to them before they are introduced into court.

More may or may not drop in the near future. I believe that what is preventing this from becoming a big story right now is that there is no "there" there. Yet. There could be. But not now.

 

this is helpful, i think, in contextualizing it better. thank you.

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Here is more reading on the topic -- this appeared in this morning's Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate (spoilered for length):

Saints, archdiocese emails dust-up spotlights close relationship between team, church leaders

BY RAMON ANTONIO VARGAS | STAFF WRITER

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.

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.

Attorneys for the plaintiff in the sex-abuse case insisted that the emails — if seen by the public — would expose the beloved team’s executives as abetting a cover-up.

The October 2018 lawsuit at the center of the controversy was 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 predator and former deacon who is currently under criminal indictment in a separate child-rape case.

As first reported Friday by AP reporter Jim Mustian, the man’s attorneys have asserted in court filings that, through the discovery process, they obtained 276 documents showing the Saints helped the archdiocese 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,” read one court filing from the plaintiff’s team of attorneys, John Denenea, Richard Trahant and Soren Gisleson.

The lawyers argued that the Saints were trying to keep the documents concealed because if they were “made public, this professional sports organization also will be smearing itself.” They noted that the emails used the Saints’ NFL.com domain.

In their own court filings, attorneys for the Saints have denied that they helped the church cover up crimes. The Saints have portrayed their front-office interactions with the archdiocese as minimal, saying team executives merely offered counsel on how best to publish a list of 55 priests and two deacons accused of abuse, including Brignac.

“The advice was simple and never wavering,” the team said Friday. “Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted.”

The statement added that the team’s executives were “repulsed by the actions of certain past clergy” and offered prayers as well as “steadfast” support for victims.

According to the Saints, their organization became involved in advising the archdiocese after the church “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 abusive clergy roster. 

At least one Saints executive, Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel, was helping the archdiocese by the time the plaintiff in the Brignac lawsuit filed his case, less than a week before the list's release.

Bensel had experience in crisis communications, having handled the Saints’ public relations during the 2012 “Bountygate” scandal as well as a messy 2015 lawsuit in which estranged relatives tried to have Tom Benson, Gayle’s since-deceased husband, declared mentally unfit to handle his own affairs.

Aymond had become very close to Gayle Benson, especially during her husband’s decline and death, hardly leaving her side during Tom Benson’s March 2018 wake and funeral.

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.

Four days later, the archdiocese released its list of abusive clergy. Aymond individually met reporters from various news outlets that day in a conference room. Bensel’s involvement was no secret: He sat at the opposite end of a long table for at least two of the sessions, though he remained silent throughout both interviews.

A court-appointed special master is set to hear arguments in the coming weeks on whether the communications between Saints executives and the archdiocese should remain out of public view. The AP reported it has filed a motion with the court arguing in favor of releasing the documents as a matter of public interest, given that the Saints and the archdiocese are “mega-institutions that collect millions of dollars from local residents to support their activities.”

Late Friday afternoon, the plaintiffs’ attorneys issued a response to the Saints’ statement from earlier in the day. It said: “Clearly, Greg Bensel and Gayle Marie Benson have not read the emails that the Saints are trying to conceal from the public.

“While we are not allowed to comment on what the records and emails contain at this time, we can state unequivocally what is not in them; and that is that there is absolutely no discussion about any concern or sympathy for any particular victims of children being raped by clergy. None.”

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10 hours ago, JamieMurphy said:

Ehh, Brees has been associated with the virulently anti-gay Christian group Focus on the Family, so the Saints ownership trying to help the Catholic church soften the charge of child rape and molestation doesn't come as much of a surprise to me.

Abuse and discrimination in the name of religion is part of the Saints' fiber.

And Pete Buttigieg held a fundraiser at chic-fil-a while they continue to donate to virulently anti gay groups.  Brees is a good guy.

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On 1/26/2020 at 3:33 AM, wgoldsph said:

And Pete Buttigieg held a fundraiser at chic-fil-a while they continue to donate to virulently anti gay groups.  Brees is a good guy.

This is false.  chic-fil-a DOES NOT contribute to virulently anti-gay groups.

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Hot Take Headline. We won't know the truth until the records are made public. 

If this is the truth: "The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted." - it's PR advice being given. 

If this is the truth: "court filings ... show that the NFL team ... aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.” - it's a completely different story. 

Somebody @ me in a year or so when we actually know.

 

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On 1/25/2020 at 5:19 PM, JamieMurphy said:

Ehh, Brees has been associated with the virulently anti-gay Christian group Focus on the Family, so the Saints ownership trying to help the Catholic church soften the charge of child rape and molestation doesn't come as much of a surprise to me.

Abuse and discrimination in the name of religion is part of the Saints' fiber.

Not a Saints fan and I was not happy to see Brees have any association with FotF, but this is a real stretch. 

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47 minutes ago, matttyl said:

Exactly, and Brees has already made a statement on it.

Right. Like I said, I don't support FotF and would prefer to see all players (and everyone, really) steer clear of them, but the actual message that Brees delivered was pretty unobjectionable. If he were to continue working with them after being made aware of what they stand for, I would have more of a problem with him.

Even there, though, lumping these two stories together as "Brees and the Saints support abuse and discrimination" is taking things way too far ... and that's assuming the accusations that the organization was trying to help cover up child abuse are true, which is not at all clear to me.

I strongly oppose groups that further discrimination against LGBTQ folks. I am beyond horrified at those who would cover up child abuse. All I'm saying is, let's wait until we have all the facts before we try to shoehorn stories into our preferred political narrative.

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I just re-watched Spotlight over the weekend. It just amazes me that this issue was so prevalent in the Catholic Church, that we are still dealing with the ramifications 19 years after the story was originally made public. The fact that Brignac still had access to Children until 2018 shows that the Church still has not gotten totally serious about fixing the problem. 

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15 minutes ago, zftcg said:

Even there, though, lumping these two stories together as "Brees and the Saints support abuse and discrimination" is taking things way too far ... and that's assuming the accusations that the organization was trying to help cover up child abuse are true, which is not at all clear to me.

I appreciate your perspective.

Rest assured, the part in bolded absolutely did not happen. Even the original article linked in the OP makes that clear, not to mention the two links I posted later. However, the plaintiffs' attorneys in this civil case are happy to have the general public misunderstand what took place.

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Read the AP story about Brignac. Apparently, he did training for volunteers who come in contact with Children to help prevent sexual abuse between 2007 and 2010. He admitted in that training that he had a history of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese, which conducted the training, did nothing to prevent him from continuing to work with kids or to notify the Knights of Columbus (who do not do background checks!) that he had a sexual abuse history. This amazes me. The Catholic Church still does not get it.

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Two things.

1. This is one of those posts that's borderline NFL and could be Free For All or Political posts. It's mostly NFL for now so we'll keep it here.

2. it's obviously an incredibly serious topic. But also don't jump straight to convictions. We've already seen that with ripping Brees while not knowing the story. Please keep this on the same level of being civil as we ask other topics to be. Thanks.

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An owner directed her PR staff to soften the church who wanted help dealing with pedophilia making it an NFL story. 

“A man would rather have a hundred lies told of him than one truth which he does not wish should be known"

Samuel Johnson

============

Daniel Wallach @WALLACH LEGAL

Some thoughts on the latest New Orleans Saints legal controversy:

1) NFL should be demanding to see these emails, and then conduct its own investigation.

2) Private civil lawsuits have not been an obstacle to NFL investigations. (See Antonio Brown civil sexual assault claims).

3) There is a disconnect between the benign explanation offered by the Saints (e.g., that our “advice was simple and never wavering”) and the sheer number of emails (nearly 300) exchanged between the team’s PR staff and New Orleans Archdiocese;

4) Which team officials and/or employees participated in the drafting, editing and/or review of the Saints’ press release? Were they any of the same individuals who were on the email chain with the Archdiocese?

5) The large number of emails between the Saints PR staff and the New Orleans Archdiocese raises legitimate questions as to the extent of the team’s level of involvement in the messaging campaign. Questions that should be asked first and foremost by the NFL.

7) Goodell has the authority to investigate under Article VIII of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws, and can impose suspensions and levy fines (up to $500k) against team owners or employees for “conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league.”

😎 Goodell can also seek enhanced penalties, such as requiring a forced sale of the franchise, if he “determines that any punishment that the Commissioner has the power to impose [under Article VIII] is not adequate or sufficient.”

9) Personal Conduct Policy can also come into play. It applies to “all persons associated with the NFL,” including owners and employees. Prohibited conduct is not limited to crimes - it also covers “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL.”

10) Will the league conduct an investigation, or will it just simply defer to the civil court system?

10:48 PM · Jan 26, 2020

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

See #4.  The e-mails we know of are between the PR staff and Archdiocese but this raises a point I hadn't thought of and that is e-mails between the PR staff outside of the PR e-mail umbrella.   

An investigation should be conducted by the NFL but this is SB week and the last thing they want are questions about pedophilia.  I would imagine blow back from a billion dollar industry with strong religious/political ties is why national beat writers are running away from this.  No, on second thought I don't imagine this deafening silence.  

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I think one needs clarification about the rules of discovery in the legal setting (especially under LA law, which is unlike the other 49 states) before one decides if what the Saints are requesting is abnormal or not par for the course of a defendant in a civil suit.

It is perhaps they have something to hide, perhaps the plaintiff wants the civil suit under the pressure of public opinion, especially if LA judges are elected.

There are more that know more about the subject, I am sure. I'll hold off any judgment until experts weigh in on it and the legal system runs its course. 

Edited by rockaction
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3 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

I would imagine blow back from a billion dollar industry with strong religious/political ties is why national beat writers are running away from this.  No, on second thought I don't imagine this deafening silence.  

I think that lots in the media have investigated what information is available, and at least for now ... there's no 'there' there.

In any event, these emails will be public record before long -- once they're introduced into the trial, they become public record.

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22 hours ago, Joe Bryant said:

Two things.

1. This is one of those posts that's borderline NFL and could be Free For All or Political posts. It's mostly NFL for now so we'll keep it here.

2. it's obviously an incredibly serious topic. But also don't jump straight to convictions. We've already seen that with ripping Brees while not knowing the story. Please keep this on the same level of being civil as we ask other topics to be. Thanks.

I backpedaled on my assertion that Brees was associated with FotF, but the facts are that he did do a segment with them. Yes, it was promoting children read the Bible and bring it to school. They are still an anti-LGBT group. He claimed he doesn't support that part of FotF and didn't know they felt that way. That doesn't excuse his affiliation with  them, and I'm glad he now knows who they are and what they represent. It surprised me since he is friends with Ellen.

Does that mean he has any part of the Catholic stuff going on? No. But it does show a pattern of an organization stepping in it when it comes to their faith.

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2 hours ago, JamieMurphy said:

I backpedaled on my assertion that Brees was associated with FotF, but the facts are that he did do a segment with them. Yes, it was promoting children read the Bible and bring it to school. They are still an anti-LGBT group. He claimed he doesn't support that part of FotF and didn't know they felt that way. That doesn't excuse his affiliation with  them, and I'm glad he now knows who they are and what they represent. It surprised me since he is friends with Ellen.

Does that mean he has any part of the Catholic stuff going on? No. But it does show a pattern of an organization stepping in it when it comes to their faith.

Fallacy of composition. No better example of it than here. 

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2 hours ago, rockaction said:

Fallacy of composition. No better example of it than here. 

I don't even think the "a pattern of an organization stepping in it" is established. I mean, as a 'controversy', this one is especially thin and hollow. Ergo - no traction.

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9 minutes ago, Doug B said:

I don't even think the "a pattern of an organization stepping in it" is established. I mean, as a 'controversy', this one is especially thin and hollow. Ergo - no traction.

267 known e-mails is thin?

How many e-mails would a Saints fan like you consider thick?  

The team is fighting to keep the e-mails secret.  They cherry-picked one part of one of the 267 e-mails to say that they advised the church to be 'TRANSPARENT' yet they are fighting to hide their PR role in 'softening'  the language of the church's involvement in pedophilia.  

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2 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

267 known e-mails is thin?

How many e-mails would a Saints fan like you consider thick?  

Without knowing the contents of those e-mails? No number of e-mails is meaningful.

The Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans are essentially business partners and have been for decades. Saints VP of Communications Greg Bensel was present when Archbishop Gregory Aymond released the names of 57 credibly-accused local clergy in 2018. Bensel's advisory role was not below-board. From the link in my last post from this past Saturday 1/25 upthread:

Quote

 

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.

Four days later (Nov 2, 2018 - db), the archdiocese released its list of abusive clergy. Aymond individually met reporters from various news outlets that day in a conference room. Bensel’s involvement was no secret: He sat at the opposite end of a long table for at least two of the sessions, though he remained silent throughout both interviews.

 

I think the public-record exchange recounted above is essentially representative of the exchanges between Bensel and McDonald. I also don't think that all 267 emails are necessarily about the release of the list of 57 accused. I expect that the Saints and the Archdiocese communicate frequently, and accordingly expect that the 267 emails were 'caught' in kind of a trawl and that many (or even most) of them are about ordinary day-to-day matters -- as opposed to being 267 separate instances of nefarious communication.

In sum, at least for me: the plaintiffs' attorneys can't expect to be taken at their word. If the team's PR staff did something wrong, it's incumbent upon the plaintiffs' attorneys to prove it.

Edited by Doug B
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3 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

267 known e-mails is thin?

How many e-mails would a Saints fan like you consider thick?  

The team is fighting to keep the e-mails secret.  They cherry-picked one part of one of the 267 e-mails to say that they advised the church to be 'TRANSPARENT' yet they are fighting to hide their PR role in 'softening'  the language of the church's involvement in pedophilia.  

Thank you for the earlier post...very informative.

To me, there is a difference between "the team" and an owner, even if the owner is using front office staff "in support of her church / faith".

If everywhere in this thread where the Saints or the team was redacted and replaced by the owner, I would be sympathetic to calling for a league investigation and potential censure of said owner.  The situation reminds me of Marge Schott.  Don't blame the Reds for Marge Schott's racist behavior.  Don't blame the Saints for Gayle Benson trying to help facilitate the coverup of systematic abuse within the institution of the Catholic Church.  HER behavior is conduct detrimental to the league on its face.

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17 minutes ago, SeniorVBDStudent said:

Don't blame the Saints for Gayle Benson trying to help facilitate the coverup of systematic abuse within the institution of the Catholic Church.  HER behavior is conduct detrimental to the league on its face.

You will have to show your work here. I submit that this didn't happen at all.

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4 hours ago, Doug B said:

You will have to show your work here. I submit that this didn't happen at all.

Oh I have no interest in debating the finer points of the legal matter at hand.  I'm passing judgement against a woman who is clearly using available resources to "help" the Catholic Church.  Whether or not this "help" is specific to a "cover up" or "spin control" or organizing Sunday lunches, she does the league a disservice through her public linkage to a cancerous institution of man.

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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.

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15 minutes ago, Statorama said:

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!

I agree with you that there is probably nothing that the Saints did wrong. However, if you decide to help the Church in this extremely bad situation and then are blocking disclosure of how you helped, it gives the appearance of covering up something. 

If the Saints/Owner wanted to help the Catholic Church, they really needed to go into it willing to disclose whatever way they were helping.

Regarding the bolded, if that is all the Saints said in the emails, why would they need to block release of the emails?

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21 minutes ago, Statorama said:

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.

 

I agree. However, if we shouldn't blindly accept one version of spin (the hot take headline), why should we accept the Saints version of spin as you have in the post below?

 

18 minutes ago, Statorama said:

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!

 

Just playing Devil's Advocate, here. But there are clearly several different PR spins going on and I'm not willing to accept any of them as truth. I'll decide what to accept when there's something tangible to use to form an opinion. 

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3 minutes ago, Flying Elvis said:

Just playing Devil's Advocate, here. But there are clearly several different PR spins going on and I'm not willing to accept any of them as truth. I'll decide what to accept when there's something tangible to use to form an opinion. 

I know I'm being a ninny, but I agree with this. It's best to let the procedural ramifications come to light regarding disclosure and its legal effects, and once the information is disclosed, I'll decide, not some PR firm. Well said, Flying Elvis. 

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4 minutes ago, dhockster said:

I agree with you that there is probably nothing that the Saints did wrong. However, if you decide to help the Church in this extremely bad situation and then are blocking disclosure of how you helped, it gives the appearance of covering up something. 

...

Regarding the bolded, if that is all the Saints said in the emails, why would they need to block release of the emails?

The email's are blocked by default because they are evidence in a civil court trial. That's important to understand. The Saints, strictly, aren't trying to block release of the emails forever more. The Saints, instead, are countering a move by the plaintiffs' attorneys to release the emails to the public (via an AP motion) RIGHT NOW, ahead of their introduction in the trial.

The Saints are fully aware that these emails WILL go public in a few months as they are introduced in the trial. However, the team and more importantly, the Archdiocese, oppose this part of the trial being played out in public instead of in court. The plaintiffs' attorneys are working tactically here in their clients' interests, likely to force a settlement from the Archdiocese.

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Just now, Doug B said:

The email's are blocked by default because they are evidence in a civil court trial. That's important to understand. The Saints, strictly, aren't trying to block release of the emails forever more. The Saints, instead, are countering a move by the plaintiffs' attorneys to release the emails to the public (via an AP motion) RIGHT NOW, ahead of their introduction in the trial.

The Saints are fully aware that these emails WILL go public in a few months as they are introduced in the trial. However, the team and more importantly, the Archdiocese, oppose this part of the trial being played out in public instead of in court. The plaintiffs' attorneys are working tactically here in their clients' interests, likely to force a settlement from the Archdiocese.

Gotcha. 

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35 minutes ago, Statorama said:

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!

It took 276 emails to give that advice? I have no reason to think the Saints did anything wrong, but let's not pretend that was the extent of their involvement.

 

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In the interests of fairness:

Jim Mustian, the AP writer that Bracie quoted in the OP above, published a double-down article this morning - Saints helped shape accused clergy list, victim lawyers say (APNews.com 1/30/2020). Here's the central excerpt:

Quote

 

“This goes beyond public relations,” the [plaintiffs'] attorneys wrote, accusing the Saints of issuing misleading statements saying their work for the archdiocese involved only “messaging” and handling media inquiries as part of the 2018 release of the clergy names.

Instead, they wrote, “The Saints appear to have had a hand in determining which names should or should not have been included on the pedophile list.”

“In order to fulfill this role ... the Saints must have known the specific allegations of sexual abuse against a priest ... and 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 included on the pedophile list.”

 

 

IMHO, things sound apparently worse for Greg Bensel here. It depends what specific effect Bensel actually had on the list of 57. I can see scenarios where Bensel's involvement is OK, and other scenarios where his involvement is out-of-bounds.

EDIT:

(further fleshing out of my last paragraph, cribbed from elsewhere)

Another consideration is whether or not that list of 57 was supposed to be the end-all-be-all list and anyone not on the list should be considered squeaky-clean. "Credibly accused" is not a bright-line standard. As the list of 57 was compiled, there were probably other names left off that seemed to be "accused, but not quite credibly accused".

So is the AP's current digging just an issue of where the "credible/not credible" line of accusation is drawn? Or was Greg Bensel (or even Ms. Benson herself  ) imploring the Archdiocese to leave names off of the list of people who were, indeed, credibly accused (by whatever standard) but were associates of Bensel's or Benson's, somehow?

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1 minute ago, rockaction said:

Mustian is awfully careful in his Tweet to use the wording "the papers allege..."

He's a Pulitzer Prize winner.

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.

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3 minutes ago, Doug B said:

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.

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. 

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