A recently filed US civil lawsuit claims Daryl Katz, the billionaire owner of the Edmonton Oilers, paid a teenage ballet dancer $75,000 in exchange for “her sexual favours”.
The unproven claims come in response to a sexual abuse lawsuit launched by seven budding ballerinas in 2021 against Mitchell Taylor Button, a dance teacher, and his wife Dusty Button, once a principal member of the Boston Ballet.
Earlier this month, Taylor Button and his wife filed a third-party counterclaim in U.S. District Court in Nevada, admitting consensual “threesome sex” with Sage Humphries, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. The counterclaim says their “loving and supportive” affair began in 2017, when Humphries was 18, but alleges she had been involved in three prior sexual relationships as an underage teenager with much older men, including Katz.
The third-party claim seeks to hold these men responsible for any damages, with the filing saying that if there is a price to be paid, “it should be paid by those who actually committed unlawful acts with her”.
A lawyer representing Katz denied the allegations.
Screenshots of the alleged texts
The lawsuit makes a number of unsubstantiated allegations about Katz, Humphries and her family.
“Humphries was literally a child prostitute for a billionaire,” the allegation states, “and her mother helped her launder the money she received and trafficked her to Katz.”
Among the attachments to the filing are screenshots of texts allegedly exchanged between Humphries and Katz, as well as an iPhone contact under the billionaire’s name, showing a number with a 780 area code, most often associated with the area of ‘Edmonton.
“If my guys send you funds, are you going to spend/keep them for yourself? Katz reportedly wrote. “And just between us?” Even if you are wise beyond your age given our respective ages, it would be badly taken.
“Yeah.. Just between us,” Humphries allegedly replied.
“OK, one of my guys will email you. He’ll send you 50,000,” read the message attributed to Katz.
The court filing says Katz was 53 at the time, while the dancer was 17.
A “distraction and a shakedown”
Robert Klieger, the attorney representing Katz, told CBC News his client never had a sexual relationship with Humphries. But the pair met twice in the spring of 2016 over a project the 17-year-old was pitching to Katz’s film company, Money pictures.
“One of Daryl’s friends put him in touch with Sage because Sage was working with producing partners to buy a film project that they had put together, basically, and it was based around the world of ballet,” said said Klieger.
Klieger said he was unable to verify the authenticity of the texts in the court filing, but confirmed that the Edmonton Oilers owner arranged for $75,000 to be sent to Humphries in the framework of their commercial relations.
“They finally decided to pass the project on. But during the time the project was under consideration, they asked for help to maintain the funding for the project so that it could continue. And it was the $75,000 that are involved,” says Klieger.
The Project, a remake of an independent Australian film called Tackle Romeo, still in development, according to an IMDB listing.
Klieger said Katz will vigorously defend his reputation against the “baseless and libelous” claims in the lawsuit.
“It’s designed to be a distraction and a shakedown,” he said.
A “meaningless spectacle”
The third-party action doesn’t explain how or when the screenshots were obtained, but the time and battery levels displayed suggest they were viewed multiple times. The original civil lawsuit Humphries filed says she gave Taylor Button her iPhone and passwords so he could help her create a social network.
To date, no response has been filed to the third party’s motion. In a statement to CBC News, the attorney representing Humphries and the other dancers called the action a “meaningless spectacle.”
“As is typical of abusers facing serious litigation, the Buttons have filed counterclaims that misrepresent and distort the truth and weaponize the serious abuse allegations that have been made against them,” wrote Sigrid McCawley, managing partner at Boies Schiller LLP.
“Their counterclaims falsely implicate other people and are a baseless attempt to portray the women they abused as liars.”
Marc Randazza, the Las Vegas attorney representing Taylor Button and his wife, declined to comment on the case.
“We are not taking this case in the press,” he wrote in an email.
Randazza describes himself as a “First Amendment lawyer” and his website highlights a number of areas of expertise, including civil rights, defamation, the adult entertainment industry, and the “protection of erotic expression. “.
He caught the attention of the media for some of his controversial clients, including Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Andrew Anglin, publisher of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. He was subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Florida, California and Nevada State Bars
Previous allegations of sex for money
This isn’t the first time Katz has been the subject of sex for money allegations.
In 2017, RJ Cipriani, a professional gamer, filed a defamation lawsuit against GF Bunting+Co, a public relations crisis management firm that then represented Katz.
The suit alleged that Katz proposed to Cipriani’s wife, model and actress Greice Santo during a photo shoot in Hawaii, offering her $20,000 a day for sex. Katz allegedly wired Santo a total of $35,000 – money she later donated to charity after rejecting the arrangement.
At the time, a spokesperson for Katz denied the allegations, calling them “false, malicious and entirely baseless.”
Asked about the 2017 case, Katz’s attorney Robert Klieger said “there was nothing to it,” offering to put CBC News in touch with Cipriani.
“There’s no ongoing animosity or anything between them,” Klieger said. “But I can’t go into detail on exactly how they solved this.”