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Saints emails become issue in Archdiocese of New Orleans abuse litigation

Mike Florio

Well, if any NFL team were to find itself caught in the gears of the ongoing abuse litigation against the Catholic Church, it would make sense for it to be the Saints.

Via the Associated Press, the Saints hope to shield from public view “hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.”

Attorneys for plaintiffs suing the Archdiocese of New Orleans claim that 276 documents obtained in the litigation show that the Saints aided the church in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.” Through their attorneys, the Saints dispute that the team helped the church in concealing criminal activity, and that the emails were intended to be private and shouldn’t be “fodder for the public.”

Of course, that’s not how civil litigation works. Plenty of otherwise private communications end up becoming public through the discovery process — and through the attachment of such documents to court filings. Although certain private communications are sufficiently sensitive to be shielded from public view, the bar is high.

The Associated Press has filed paperwork seeking the release of the emails, arguing that “[t]his case does not involve intensely private individuals who are dragged into the spotlight but well-known mega-institutions that collect millions of dollars from local residents to support their activities.”

A lawyer for the Archdiocese of New Orleans calls the effort to publicize the emails as the “proverbial witch hunt with respect to decades-old abuse.”

Eventually, a ruling will be made on whether the emails will be released to the public.