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Victims of priest sexual abuse respond to Saints owner’s statement on email

Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including Richard Windmann, hold signs in front of the New Orleans Saints training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020. The pro football team acknowledged last week that its front office helped church leaders deal with the public relations fallout that followed the publishing a list of local clergymen the archdiocese deemed “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children. | Source: AP Photo / Matthew Hinton
Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including Richard Windmann, hold signs in front of the New Orleans Saints training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday Jan. 29, 2020. The pro football team acknowledged last week that its front office helped church leaders deal with the public relations fallout that followed the publishing a list of local clergymen the archdiocese deemed “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children. | Source: AP Photo / Matthew Hinton(KALB)
Published: Feb. 11, 2020 at 10:41 PM CST
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A group of people who say they have been abused by priests want Saints owner Gayle Benson to release the emails exchanged between the Saints and Catholic officials, according to the group.

Benson sent a release Monday saying that the team wanted to clarify its stance regarding its advice to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The owner said her team played no role in determining which priests would be named in the list of “credibly accused.” She also said in her statement that she did not make payments to help the church pay legal settlements to victims embroiled in the scandal.

In the team’s original statement they said, “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 group, SNAP, said if the team has nothing to hide, it should produce the emails in question. They claim this would clear Benson and the Saints of having any malicious influence.

“We are especially concerned about this case because the archdiocese admits to 57 abusers, but independent watchdogs at BishopAccountability.org name at least 79. There obviously is a math problem in Louisiana, and this math works out to more danger for the vulnerable in the state,” SNAP said in a statement.

WVUE, along with The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and two of the city’s other television stations have filed a motion asking that they be allowed access to a court hearing on the question of whether emails and other communications between the Archdiocese of New Orleans and executives of the New Orleans Saints should remain confidential.

An attorney for the media organizations is not arguing that the emails should be made public, but rather the hearing should be opened to the public.

“We call on the Attorney General of Louisiana to intervene and open an investigation. We renew our call to the NFL and Roger Godel to investigate the New Orleans Saints, and if appropriate, to fine the organization and then donate those proceeds to groups that advocate for victims and fight against the sex abuse of children,” SNAP went on to say in its statement.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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