Before this weekend’s unending stream of programming proclaiming the greatness of the National Football League, let’s catch up on a truly bizarre story that probably won’t get much mention in the penumbra of the Super Bowl.
Back in July, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reported that a subpoena had been sent to the New Orleans Saints by lawyers representing a man suing the Archdiocese of New Orleans. In the lawsuit, the man, going by John Doe, says he was sexually abused by former Catholic deacon George Brignac and the archdiocese “failed to protect him,” per the paper.
(Brignac was defrocked in 1988 after allegations of child molestation, but he was still reading scriptures and teaching in Catholic schools until 2018. Brignac also has been indicted on one count of aggravated rape of a boy under the age of 12. Brignac has denied the claims in the lawsuit and in criminal court entered a plea of of not guilty. The archdiocese is fighting the lawsuit.)
Why the subpoena of the Saints? The report gave this reason:
“According to attorneys Richard Trahant and John Denenea, the move came after the discovery process turned up documents and emails which, they contend, showed at least one member of the Saints’ administration — longtime public relations chief Greg Bensel — was advising the archdiocese on how to publicly address local claims pertaining to the Catholic Church’s ongoing clergy abuse crisis.”
Jump forward to early January, when the Associated Press reported that John Doe’s lawyers had received 276 documents that “show that the NFL team, whose owner [Gayle Benson] is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its ‘pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.'” The Saints then issued a statement saying, yes, it “always had a very strong relationship with the Archdiocese” and that Bensel had offered advice on “how to work with the media” when asked for it. This one sentence of the Saints’ statement was published in bold: “The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted.”
The best way to confirm this would be to make the emails public. But the Saints are fighting those efforts in court.
In its statement, the team insisted that it was just asking the judge “to apply the normal rules of civil discovery.” But the AP report noted that, in court filings, the Saints called releasing the emails “fodder for the public.”
So the AP filed a motion asking to make the emails public, and this week lawyers for John Doe filed court documents in support of the AP’s request. In those documents, the attorneys say they now believe the sealed emails show that the Saints helped determine who was and who was not on a list released to the public of “credibly accused clergy that appears to be undercounted,” the AP reported.
The lawyers told the court: “The Saints appear to have had a hand in determining which names should or should not have been included on the pedophile list.” As part of a national project last year, the AP found that the publicly released list was missing at least 20 credibly accused priests.
A Times-Picayune/Advocate report said the filing makes other assertions as well. According to that report, the filing also says the Saints helped pitch “favorable” stories to local media and contacted the president of a local Catholic high school “(which) also has been sued multiple times for child rape.”
The team, in another statement obtained by WLOX-TV, said: “Never did the Saints organization offer advice to conceal information, in fact, we advised that as new information relative to credible evidence about other clergy came to light, then those names should be released and given to proper authorities.” The archdiocese pushed back on what John Doe’s lawyers said, issuing a statement saying: “The role of the New Orleans Saints was limited to guidance in releasing this information to media, not to advise on the content of the report.”
On Friday, an Orleans Parish Civil Court judge said that the AP can move forward with its request to unseal the emails, WWL-TV reported. The next step, per WWL’s Danny Monteverde, will be a hearing before a special master scheduled for February.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests issued a statement after the ruling: “The fact remains that there was never any reason for staff from an NFL organization to get involved in evaluating cases of clergy sexual abuse. If the advice from Saints staff was as innocent as they contend, then we think there should be no reason why the emails should remain hidden. We look forward to greater transparency in this case and for the opportunity for the full truth to be revealed.”
Caviar Smokeboy says:
If the league isn’t going to look into it, it must be bad.
January 31, 2020 — 3:51 pm
O’s, Poes and Bohs says:
Ideally, the NFL would bring down the hammer on all personnel involved and force the sale of the team. But Goodell revealed the other day that his head is in the sand on this.
February 3, 2020 — 7:48 am
They saw the Patriots saluting the troops and said “Hey, why not us?”
January 31, 2020 — 3:54 pm
Herb Tarlek says:
Diana’s here! UTSB is indeed a good website.
January 31, 2020 — 6:03 pm
I really wanted to hear her hot takes during the USFS Nationals last weekend but some herb had to go and ruin everything back in October 🙁
January 31, 2020 — 10:53 pm
Does It Really Matter? says:
I started reading Deadspin in the first place because of Diana’s reporting. I’m glad to see she’s part of this site, even if it is short-lived.
February 2, 2020 — 4:20 pm
More like New Orleans Sinners? AMIRITE?
God I miss getting stars. The rush. The power. The thrill.
I need to try something less addictive, like heroin.
January 31, 2020 — 4:02 pm
Glad Moskovitz is on the case.
[The Saints said ] “Never did the Saints organization offer advice to conceal information, in fact, we advised that as new information relative to credible evidence about other clergy came to light, then those names should be released and given to proper authorities.”
Translation: “Don’t get caught hiding anything without a long paper trail exonerating yourself, so make sure you have 500 reasons why you don’t find a victim’s testimony credible.”
January 31, 2020 — 5:02 pm
* is the best I can do for you. But you earned it.
February 1, 2020 — 8:53 am
Lee Carney says:
I too miss the stars, tho more from the fact I want to be able to hand them out, gives me the rush usually reserved only for kindergarten teachers
February 1, 2020 — 10:16 am
Damn. I’ve missed you. I understood why you left, but that didn’t make missing you any easier. I know we don’t have much time together, and I am not going to dwell on the past. Once done is done. We have today. We have tomorrow. What comes next is anyone’s guess. My heart and soul has everything it needs. With you. Right here, right now. Tell me everything.
January 31, 2020 — 4:02 pm
Kobe’s already dead, man.
January 31, 2020 — 4:37 pm
January 31, 2020 — 7:07 pm
Meet me in Temecula and I’ll give you your star
January 31, 2020 — 10:09 pm
January 31, 2020 — 4:47 pm
As an Astros fan, it has been a ROUGH couple of months. But I can always count on football to remind me that it can be much, much, much worse.
January 31, 2020 — 4:55 pm
This was the story that popped up recently that really made me wish THE SITE WHICH SHALL NOT BE NAMED was still around. I wish that all the time of course, but this story specifically just cried out for their attention.
January 31, 2020 — 4:08 pm
Lane Dash, MD says:
February 1, 2020 — 7:53 pm
Anyone who helps cover up the sexual abuse of children can Geaux fuck themselves.
January 31, 2020 — 4:09 pm
I miss this so much.
February 1, 2020 — 10:12 am
Dead Moon Night says:
I want a smashing glass and theme music to blare whenever Moskovitz posts. And I would also like her to ride into the ring on a beer truck, but instead of Steveweiser, she sprays FOIAs everwhere.
I don’t get out much.
January 31, 2020 — 4:15 pm
February 1, 2020 — 6:57 pm
Tracer Bullet says:
It’s great to have Diana back. It’s a shame the world provides so much for her to do.
January 31, 2020 — 4:17 pm
Moses Hightower says:
How does this weekend also have Diana Moskovitz covering an explosive scandal?! My heart, it is so full…
January 31, 2020 — 4:18 pm
UTSB is up for a handful of hours and Diana is already sullying the bear posts and thicc tennis man comments with real journalism.
February 1, 2020 — 10:34 am
Love your work.
January 31, 2020 — 4:26 pm
Robot Jerry Rice says:
The answer to the headline is in the headline.
January 31, 2020 — 4:31 pm
Gregory Weston says:
Great to see a Diana article!
As a former Louisiana resident, I can says that the local football team being involved in a church scandal is the most Gulf Coast thing ever.
The least Gulf Coast thing ever is a TV station named after this Jewish guy’s favorite bagel topping.
January 31, 2020 — 4:49 pm
Hit Bull Win Steak says:
this is just the plot of the new season of True Detective, isn’t it?
January 31, 2020 — 5:07 pm
Erik Lonnrot says:
I would subscribe to HBO to watch that if Diana Moskovitz wrote it.
January 31, 2020 — 6:16 pm
Bald Headed Scallywag says:
YES DIANA!! No one is talking about this story, and it’s another reason I’m sad the best website died. 🙁
January 31, 2020 — 5:08 pm
I ate Tomato says:
January 31, 2020 — 5:30 pm
“Our emails will show that we did nothing wrong”
So can we see those?
January 31, 2020 — 6:16 pm
Diana’s here too?!? What a great day this is (not for the Saints or the Catholic church, of course…)
January 31, 2020 — 6:49 pm
The frivolity of this entire, ephemeral, beautiful experiment is lovely to behold.
But: it’s also wonderful to see Diana contributing some deeply investigated stuff again.
It’s all great, please make it let forever unknown corporate sponsor.
January 31, 2020 — 7:05 pm
Ownership has ties to the Roman Catholic Church and people think that they’re using the Saints PR machine to cover up sex abuse.
That’s what the Hell is going on with the New Orleans Saints and the Roman Catholic Church.
January 31, 2020 — 7:42 pm
As a Vikings fan I can say fuck these assholes forever. I already knew they were evil just not THIS evil.
January 31, 2020 — 8:10 pm
Diggs Sideline Touchdown forever
February 1, 2020 — 12:12 pm
taco mike says:
As usual, Diana is the first to tell me something I feel like in a sane world would be a huge, public scandal.
January 31, 2020 — 8:15 pm
Unnamed Baseball Player's Helmet says:
I think I can speak for most of us when I say that it’s a tremendous shock that a NFL team is complicit in the Catholic Church and their abuse of children and that somehow it isn’t the Patriots.
January 31, 2020 — 9:07 pm
⭐️ for the user name
February 1, 2020 — 1:46 am
Oh wow good call
February 1, 2020 — 6:59 pm
I kept hearing little bits about this story but nothing in depth like this. Thank you for your work Diana, You’ve been missed.
January 31, 2020 — 10:11 pm
And the lawyers, go marching in, to cover up for the sleazy millionaires
January 31, 2020 — 11:00 pm
Dammit, it’s so good getting the gang together like this. Thanks for your reporting during the wild ride that is Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com. You’re doing the lord’s work here, even if Temporarily.
January 31, 2020 — 11:31 pm
Arby's Clerk says:
Everyone loves Diana. NO ONE DENIES THiS!
January 31, 2020 — 11:45 pm
Wow. I was tickled to see the Jamboroo back, then Lauren writing about hockey, Friday bears, Burneko writing about who is butt and was thinking what a delightfully unexpected whimsy to grace an otherwise dire Friday. But for Diana to come back too? May this dream never end. Or at least not until we’ve remembered some guys, ranked some items in flabbergastingly awful fashion, and gotten a recipe for babaganoush.
February 1, 2020 — 1:20 am
the other Tim says:
Don’t see what the big deal is, God has been spiting them accordingly via referees.
February 1, 2020 — 1:25 am
The Sordid Tale of Orleans Saints and the Orleans Parish Parish.
February 1, 2020 — 1:31 am
This is the shit I really miss from Deadspin. Thank you.
February 1, 2020 — 2:12 am
best sports reporter ever right here.
February 1, 2020 — 2:20 am
This Saints story wasn’t making a lot of sense to me when it first broke. I actually thought to myself that if only there were a website that went beyond sports and had talented investigative reporters to shine a critical light on a story. And POOF! Here we are.
Missed you, Diana.
February 1, 2020 — 8:55 am
JSpan is a Herb says:
UP with watchdog and media reporting!!
DOWN with inane Big Game coverage!!
Man, I miss deadspin
February 1, 2020 — 10:31 am
Of all the things that have happened since Deadspin’s demise, THIS is the one that made me really think “Damn, I miss Deadspin, they’d cover this story so well.” And here’s UTSB to give me what I want!
February 1, 2020 — 1:25 pm
Diana! Welcome back to you and this glorious unnamed site!
February 2, 2020 — 2:19 am
William C Fenton says:
Damn, such good reporting.
February 2, 2020 — 10:55 pm