New Orleans Saints, Catholic Church fight to block emails linked to sex abuse

Victims claim the NFL team helped to cover for suspected priests.

Attorneys for the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans archdiocese argued on Thursday in favor of blocking the release of emails between the two organizations tied to the church's alleged handling of priests accused of sexual abuse.

Victims who've sued the church claim the NFL team's public relations department helped the archdiocese, which released a list of accused clergy members in 2018, cover up abuse.

E. Dirk Wegmann, the attorney representing the archdiocese, contended the church's work with the team was proper and that accusations to the contrary were "nothing more than a clear attack on the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church for wrongs of the past that the church has acknowledged," according to The Associated Press.

The AP filed a motion to release the emails, and retired Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson was appointed as a special master to decide on the request. AP attorney Mary Ellen Roy has argued that neither the Saints nor the archdiocese have met their legal burden to demonstrate the emails should remain confidential.

The Saints have argued the team wants normal courtroom procedure, including the rules of discovery, to apply, with the emails not to be released before the trial. A team spokesperson told ABC News that the Saints had advised the church to "be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted."

Representatives from the Saints did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News after Thursday's hearing.

Roy, according to the AP, argued that the Saints and the church's privacy interests are "are minimal compared to the public's concern about the roles the Archdiocese and the Saints played in managing public opinion."

"They're trying to say, 'Everything we did was fine and dandy, but let us tell you that. Don't look at them yourselves and make your own determination of that," she said, according to the AP.

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."

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