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Men suing Archdiocese say Saints helped cover-up crimes

The plaintiffs are now asking a judge to release hundreds of emails between the Archdiocese and the Saints.

NEW ORLEANS — The Saints are trying to keep private emails between team officials and the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

In a story first reported by the Associated Press, attorneys for men now suing the Archdiocese claim the Saints helped the church cover-up crimes.

They said Saints staffers, including Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Bensel, used their team email to advise church officials on “messaging” and how to soften the impact of the archdiocese’s release of a list of clergy members “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

The plaintiffs are now asking a judge to release hundreds of emails between the Archdiocese and the Saints.

Kevin Bourgeois reached a settlement with the Archdiocese last April.

He claims a priest abused him in high school.

"If the Saints organization obstructed or instructed how the Archdiocese was to withhold information, I think that's important information for us to know about," Bourgeois said.

RELATED: NFL’s Saints fight to shield emails in Catholic abuse crisis

RELATED: Saints issue statement: We advised Archdiocese to be transparent; are repulsed by past actions of some clergy

The Saints want to keep the emails private for now.

The team admits the organization has always had a strong relationship with the Archdiocese.

In a statement, the Saints also said the church reached out to a number of community 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 was in the room when WWL-TV interviewed Archbishop Gregory Aymond about the list.

According to the Saints, "The advice was simple and never wavering. Be direct, open and fully transparent, while making sure that all law enforcement agencies were alerted."

Plaintiffs' attorney John Denenea said, "While we are not allowed to comment on what the records and emails contain at this time, we can state unequivocally what is not in them; and that is —  that there is absolutely no discussion about any concern or sympathy for any particular victims of children being raped by clergy. None."

WWL-TV legal analyst Chick Foret said the issue before the court is were the Saints correct in marking those documents confidential or were they incorrect and are they going to be allowed to go into the public arena.

"I think the court will rule that the special master and or the judge will go through each of the 276 documents and either agree or disagree with the Saints that it is or isn't confidential," Foret said.

The Archdiocese is also fighting the release of the emails.

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