All allegations against Daryl Katz in a civil suit by dance instructor Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, Dusty Button, were withdrawn on August 3, 2022, in the United States District Court, State of Nevada.
Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz denies allegations in a U.S. civil suit that he paid tens of thousands of dollars to a dancer for sexual favours.
A lawyer for the ballerina also said the allegations against Mr. Katz were false.
The unproven allegations came to light in a counterclaim filed earlier this month by dance instructor Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, dancer Dusty Button. The couple is accused of sexual abuse in a lawsuit brought forward by seven aspiring ballerinas in 2021, including Sage Humphries, who is the focus of the countersuit and the claims involving Mr. Katz.
In the original lawsuit, the couple is accused of emotional controlling, financially manipulating and sexually abusing young dancers as early as 2007. Specific to Ms. Humphries, it states she met Taylor Button in 2016 during an apprenticeship program at the Boston Ballet. She claims the couple committed violent sexual acts against her, isolated her from family and forced her to live with them.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In the new court documents, which were filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada, the couple allege they were in a consensual “throuple” relationship with Ms. Humphries after she turned 18 years old. They claim she was “abused and sex trafficked” not by them, but by other older men.
The claim seeks to hold Mr. Katz and the two other men accountable for damages, described as equitable contribution in an amount proportionate to the harm they caused.
Sigrid McCawley of the Florida law firm Boies Schiller, who represents the women who have brought forward litigation against the Buttons, said in a statement the counterclaim is distracting from the serious allegations in the lawsuit.
“As is typical of abusers facing serious litigation, with four walls of facts closing in, the Buttons have filed counterclaims that distract from and distort the truth. Abusers often try to weaponize the allegations brought against them, and that’s exactly what is happening here,” she said.
“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.”
Robert Klieger, a California-based lawyer with Hueston Hennigan LLP representing Mr. Katz, said his client denies all claims made against him.
“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,” said Mr. Klieger in a statement to The Globe and Mail.
“Mr. Katz will vigorously defend his reputation against these baseless and scurrilous claims and will seek sanctions and damages against both the Buttons and their counsel for this frivolous and malicious attack on his character.”
Mr. Klieger said that “subsequent to the publication, we were able to confirm that Sage Humphries was 18 at the time she met Mr. Katz in 2016 (her birthday is October 3, 1997). That means the allegations that the Buttons have leveled against Mr. Katz were false not only with respect to a fabricated sexual relationship between Mr. Katz and Ms. Humphries, which both have unequivocally denied, but also with respect to their description of Ms. Humphries as “underage.”
The pair never had a sexual relationship, Mr. Klieger said, but he added they did meet twice in group settings and spoke on the phone many times in 2016 to discuss a film project, as Mr. Katz is the owner of a film company called Silver Pictures.
The project was called Tackling Romeo and was under development at the time, Mr. Klieger said. IMDb movie website still categorizes a remake of the Australian film as in development. “She and her producing partners were shopping the project, which brought them to Mr. Katz’s company. They ultimately passed on the project,” Mr. Klieger said.
Included in evidence is purported text messages between Mr. Katz and Ms. Humphries in which he discusses sending her $75,000, their age difference and meeting up. The Alberta area code 780, typically associated with Edmonton, is shown on the partly redacted number.
“If my guys send u funds will u spend it on/keep it for yourself?” sent Mr. Katz allegedly (written as shown). “And just between us? Even though u r wise beyond your years given our respective ages it would be taken the wrong way.” Ms. Humphries replied, “Yes … Just between us.”
Mr. Klieger said he has not been able to authenticate the texts. In the messages, Mr. Katz allegedly writes about sending her $25,000 and $50,000 on seemingly separate occasions. His lawyer said only $50,000 was paid in connection to the film project. However, Mr. Klieger said to other media $75,000 was sent to Ms. Humphries for business dealings.
It is unclear how the text messages and social media messages were acquired for evidence, though the Buttons allege Ms. Humphries engaged them for help with her social media presence.
Marc Randazza, a Las Vegas attorney representing the Buttons, initially did not respond to requests for comment from The Globe. He later said in a statement that “based on… credible evidence, Dusty Button and Mitchell Button have dismissed their claims against Daryl Katz. I want to personally apologize for any harm the erroneous factual claims may have caused to Mr. Katz and his family….”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information provided by lawyers after the initial publication of the story.
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