Editor’s Note: The claims against Daryl Katz were withdrawn on Aug. 3. For the latest, click here. Daryl Katz has denied the allegations and subsequent to the publication of this story a spokesperson for Oilers Entertainment Group told Global News that Sage Humphries was 18 at the time of her business interactions with Mr. Katz.
Editor’s note: The owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team is denying allegations made in a U.S. third-party counterclaim filed in Nevada earlier this month that says he paid a girl $75,000 for sex when she was 17 years old.
Daryl Katz is not actually being sued and the allegations are not being made by the person the third party accused him of paying for sexual favours. However, the claim calls on him to pay part or all of any damages an American couple may be required to pay depending on the outcome of a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against them by the woman they allege Katz paid to have sex with when she was a teen.
The allegations against Katz were made in a third-party counterclaim by the couple that is being sued by a group of women who allege they sexually abused them. None of the allegations made in either claim have been tested in court.
The third-party counterclaim was filed by Mitchell Taylor Button and Dusty Button on July 8, 2022, naming the seven women suing them as well as five other people, including Katz. Dusty Button, a ballerina, and her husband taught ballet to students. In their third-party counterclaim, they allege the lawsuit against them is an extortion attempt. They describe the accusations against them as “fabrications.”
The Buttons allege Sage Humphries engaged in sexual activities with older men while she was a teen, including Katz. They say Humphries was 17 and Katz was 53 when the alleged financial transaction took place.
The counterclaim says Dusty Button danced with Humphries at the Boston Ballet. The amended lawsuit against the Buttons, filed by Humphries and six other women, was filed on Sept. 23, 2021. The Buttons say their reputations in the dance world and beyond have been “unjustly ruined.”
The Buttons acknowledge they had a sexual relationship with Humphries but say it was consensual and only began when she “had reached the age of majority.” They also say Humphries lived with them.
Court documents obtained by Global News show screenshots of text messages that were allegedly exchanged between Sage Humphries — the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed against the Buttons — and Katz.
Part of the screenshots read “even though u r wise beyond your years given our respective ages it would be taken the wrong way.” Sending money is also discussed in the text messages. While sex is not mentioned in the texts, one of the people texting appears to want the other person to keep things “just between us.”
Katz’ lawyer, Robert Klieger, provided a statement to Global News on Thursday. In it, he says his client “denies the allegations against him by Mitchell Taylor Button and Dusty Button without reservation.”
“There has never been a sexual relationship of any kind between Mr. Katz and Ms. Humphries,” the statement reads in part. “Critically, the allegations against Mr. Katz are not being made by Ms. Humphries. The accusations are instead being made by the Buttons, who Ms. Humphries and six other women have accused of exploiting their position of power and influence in the dance world to sexually abuse young dancers across the country.
“Mr. Katz has never met the Buttons, and their false accusations against him are a transparent and pathetic attempt to distract attention from the abhorrent acts with which they stand charged.”
Klieger called the allegation “baseless and scurrilous” and said Katz will seek damages in response.
In a statement issued to NBC News, Humphries’ lawyer, Sigrid McCawley, said her client “had a business relationship with Mr. Katz and there was never any sexual relationship between them.”
McCawley added that Humphries and Katz had been talking about movie projects and that Humphries may have received funds from the Oilers’ owner in connection with a business deal.
“Abusers often try to weaponize the allegations brought against them, and that’s exactly what is happening here,” McCawley told NBC News. “The counterclaims the Buttons have filed falsely and recklessly implicate others, including Daryl Katz, and are a factually unfounded attempt to portray the women they abused as liars.”
Legal expert Ari Goldkind told Global News third-party counterclaims are often complicated.
“If you have A suing B, B may say to themselves, ‘Well really, this can all be laid at the hands or feet of C,'” he said. “So they bring in a third-party claim, somebody that the original plaintiff — person A — didn’t sue.
“If you’re the lawyer for a third-party recipient of a claim and you just think there’s nothing to see here, you try to get out of it at the earliest opportunity so you’re not dragged into the mud of a trial or litigation.”
–With files from Global News’ Morgan Black and Megan Robinson