The owner of the Edmonton Oilers is facing accusations he paid a teenage ballet dancer $75,000 in exchange for sexual favors, according to a civil suit reported on by CBC News.
A third-party counterclaim in US District Court in Nevada alleges Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz was in a sexual relationship with ballerina Sage Humphries when she was an underage teen.
The counterclaim is in response to a 2021 lawsuit that was filed against dance teacher Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, Dusty Button, by Humphries and other ballet dancers who accused the couple of sexual abuse, the Canadian outlet reported.
Earlier this month, the couple filed the third-party counterclaim that alleges the Buttons were in a consensual “throuple sexual relationship” with Humphries when she was 19, but also claims Katz and two other men had sexual relationships with the Humphries when she was underage, CBC News reported. The claim seeks to hold the men responsible for any damages.
“Humphries was literally a child prostitute to a billionaire,” the claim alleges, “and her mother assisted her in laundering the money she was paid and in trafficking her to Katz.”
One exhibit from the court filing obtained by CBC News shows texts allegedly exchanged between Katz, when he was 53, and Humphries when she was 17. It wasn’t clear how the messages were obtained for the civil suit.
“If my guys send u funds will u spend it on/keep it for yourself?” Katz allegedly wrote. “And just between us? Even though u r wise beyond your years given our respective ages it would be taken the wrong way.”
“Yes .. Just between us,” Humphries allegedly replies.
“OK will have one of my guys email u. He will send you 50K,” Katz then allegedly replied.
Katz’s attorney, Robert Klieger, denied the allegations against his client, calling them “baseless and scurrilous.”
He told CBC News Katz never had a sexual relationship with Humphries, though the two met twice in 2016 to discuss a project the teenager was pitching to Katz’s film company, Silver Pictures.
Klieger said he could not verify the authenticity of the texts in the court filing, CBC News reported, but Katz did arrange for $75,000 to be sent to Humphries as part of a business deal.
“They ultimately decided to pass on the project. But during the period of time that the project was under consideration, they asked for some help to keep with the funding of the project to keep it going. And that’s the $75,000 that is at issue,” said Klieger.
The lawyer for Humphries and the other dancers suing Taylor Button and his wife dismissed the counterclaim as a “meaningless sideshow” in a statement to CBC News.
“As is typical of abusers facing serious litigation, the Buttons have filed counterclaims that distract from and distort the truth and weaponize the serious allegations of abuse that have been brought against them,” wrote lawyer Sigrid McCawley.
“Their counterclaims falsely implicate others and are an unfounded attempt to portray the women they abused as liars.”
An attorney representing Taylor Button and his wife, who was once a principal member of The Boston Ballet, declined comment to CBC News.