Update: Since publishing this story, Sportsnet has verified a driver’s licence that shows Sage Humphries was not a minor during the alleged interaction with Daryl Katz.
Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz is denying any wrongdoing after a civil lawsuit filed in Nevada earlier this month surfaced alleging he paid an underage 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 Sage Humphries, was filed against them in 2021.
The counterclaim states Katz paid Humphries "at least $75,000 for her sexual services while she remained underage."
The story was first reported by CBC News on Wednesday.
Katz is one of three men listed in the lawsuit to allegedly have been involved in sexual relations with a then-underage Humphries.
The lawsuit claims Humphries received the money when she was 17 and Katz was 53. (Katz is now 61 and Humphries is 23, so it's unclear why the court documents have a discrepancy in ages.)
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Robert Klieger, Katz's lawyer, in a statement sent to Sportsnet denied the allegations "without reservation," adding there has "never been a sexual relationship of any kind" between Katz and Humphries. The statement concludes by saying Katz will "vigorously defend his reputation against these baseless and scurrilous claims."
A statement sent to Sportsnet by the NHL states, “We became aware this week of the civil lawsuit in which Mr. Katz is named as a third party by the defendants in the lawsuit. Mr. Katz has advised us that he categorically denies the allegations. We are in the process of looking into the matter.”
The lawsuit includes an exhibit of alleged texts between Katz and Humphries.
"And just between us? Even though u r wise beyond your years given our ages it would be taken the wrong way," Katz is said to have written in one of the texts.
"Yes ... Just between us," is represented as being Humphries' reply. Katz allegedly replied he will have "one of his guys" send her "50K."
Sigrid McCawley, the managing partner at the law firm of Boies Schiller and the lawyer representing Humphries and the other six ballerinas, issued the following statement through her office on Thursday to Sportsnet:
"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.
"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. The women I represent who have bravely come forward are telling the truth. We are confident the Buttons will be held accountable."
McCawley also told NBC News earlier on Thursday that "Sage had a business relationship with Mr. Katz and there was never any sexual relationship between them." McCawley is perhaps best known as the attorney for some of Jeffrey Epstein's victims and represented clients in class-action suits against Halliburton and Amway.
The third-party counterclaim states the Buttons admit to having a "throuple sexual relationship" with Humphries after she had reached the age of majority. It claims the relationship was "loving and supportive."
The counterclaim states if there is a price to be paid, "it should be paid by those who actually engaged in illegal acts with" Humphries.
When contacted by Sportsnet, Marc Randazza, the lawyer for the Buttons, stated through his office that "Our clients and our firm decline to participate in any press on this case. It is our belief that this matter should not be tried in the press." Randazza has previously defended conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and neo-Nazi website founder Andrew Anglin.
Full text of the statement issued by Robert Klieger, Daryl Katz's lawyer:
“Daryl Katz 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.
"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.
"Media considering this matter are encouraged to consider the background not only of the Buttons but also of their attorney, Marc Randazza, which is a matter of public record.
"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.”
--with files from Sportsnet's Paul D. Grant