NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A victory for the Associated Press Friday in its fight to have emails between the Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans made public.
An Orleans Parish Civil Court judge ruled the AP can move forward with its case. Both the AP and attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims are fighting for the documents between the Saints and the Archdiocese be made public.
Lawyers for those alleged victims claim the Saints helped craft the list of credibly accused clergy that was released in November 2018. They also say a Saints communications executive advised the church on how to handle damage control following the release of that report. But, the Archdiocese has said the role of the Saints was limited to guidance in releasing the list to the media not to advise on the content of the report.
The Saints say they have no interest in concealing information from the press or the public, but until the documents are admitted into evidence at a public hearing or trial, the Saints say the use of them should be limited to the parties of the case and their attorneys.
Following Friday’s hearing, an attorney for the Associated Press said this is an issue of extraordinary interest to the public.
“It’s important for the victims and their advocates, it’s important for school teachers, school principals, parents, I think the whole community is interested in this subject,” said AP attorney Mary Ellen Roy.
In response to the hearing, the Archdiocese of New Orleans released the following statement:
“We respect the judge’s decision today, and as always, we will abide by the processes and decisions of the court.”
The legal team representing a John Doe suing the Archdiocese of New Orleans also released a statement:
"The real story here is not the Saints, the Archdiocese, the NFL, or what happened in court today. The real story is John Doe, our many other clergy-abuse victim/clients, and all children who have been raped at the hands of Catholic clergy, including the ones who are now adults and suffer this horror daily. This is something only they can understand.
As far as today’s hearing, the dispute was simply whether a media organization could appear and be heard at a later hearing regarding the documents the Saints want to keep confidential - - that’s it. The Archdiocese and the Saints went to extreme lengths to deprive the media, namely the Associated Press, of its rights under the First Amendment relative to matters of significant public interest. One must ask why."