Claims against Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz withdrawn

Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz announces the hiring of Ken Holland as general manager in Edmonton on Tuesday May 7, 2019. (Jason Franson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Claims Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz had an inappropriate relationship with a former ballerina were withdrawn because she was not a minor during her alleged interaction with him.

The California driver’s licence of Sage Nicole Humphries, sent to Sportsnet and verified by her attorney’s office, displays a birthdate of Oct. 3, 1997, which makes her 24. It also means she was 18 during her alleged interaction with Katz, who is now 61.

In Nevada District Court on Wednesday, Marc Randazza – the attorney representing Mitchell Taylor Button and Dusty Button, who are defendants in a sexual assault lawsuit brought forward by Humphries – filed a motion to strike all references in a counterclaim to a sexual assault lawsuit that Humphries was “underage,” “a minor” or “17,” after Randazza’s team was provided with “reliable information” about Humphries’ age.

In the filing, Randazza stated it was “highly unusual for a party to move to strike portions of its own pleadings,” but the law firm’s previous research that included a LexisNexis report, a Wikipedia page and Google search results all indicated Humphries’ birth year to be 1998 and not 1997. Randazza’s filing also indicated Humphries misrepresented her age.

In the motion, Randazza wrote, “It is simply unfair to accuse Mr. Katz … of having been involved with Sage Humphries when she was 17 years old if there is any reliable evidence to the contrary.”

Randazza also filed on Wednesday a “notice of voluntary dismissal” of their claims against Katz. Sportsnet has reviewed copies of both the motion and the notice.

“I want to personally apologize for any harm the erroneous factual claims may have caused to Mr. Katz and his family,” Randazza wrote in an email to Sportsnet. “We brought the claims in good faith, but the moment I doubted the ability to maintain them, I took corrective action and asked the court to strike all relevant references from the record.

“Nobody should repeat those allegations in any context without noting that they have been withdrawn and repudiated.”

When reached by Sportsnet via phone, a spokesman for Katz declined further comment.

Katz denied any wrongdoing after a civil lawsuit filed in Nevada in July claimed he paid a ballerina at least $75,000 for sexual services.

The allegations were made in a third-party counterclaim by Mitchell Taylor Button, a dance teacher, and his wife, Dusty Button, a former member of the Boston Ballet, after a sexual abuse lawsuit by seven ballerinas, including lead plaintiff Humphries, was filed against them in 2021.

The unproven counterclaim alleged Katz paid Humphries “at least $75,000 for her sexual services while she remained underage.” Both Katz’s and Humphries’ lawyers denied these allegations by the Buttons, who stand accused of sexual abuse.

Support for survivors
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and is in need of support, those in Canada can find province-specific centres, crisis lines and services here. For readers in America, a list of resources and references can be found here.

The original story of Katz’s involvement was first reported by CBC News.

Katz was one of three men listed in the Buttons’ lawsuit to allegedly have been involved in sexual relations with Humphries.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Robert Klieger, Katz’s lawyer, denied the allegations “without reservation” in a statement previously sent to Sportsnet, adding there has “never been a sexual relationship of any kind” between Katz and Humphries.

The lawsuit includes an exhibit of alleged texts between Katz and Humphries.

Sigrid McCawley, managing partner at the law firm of Boies Schiller and the lawyer representing Humphries and the other six ballerinas, previously told NBC News that “Sage had a business relationship with Mr. Katz and there was never any sexual relationship between them.”

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