Allegations that Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz had a sexual relationship with an underage ballerina have been dropped from a U.S. civil suit.
The voluntary motion of dismissal regarding the allegations against Katz was filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada last week. An accompanying motion to strike removes all references to the dancer, Sage Humphries, being "underage," "a minor," or "17 years old" as was previously alleged, when she met and exchanged texts with the billionaire in the spring of 2016. References to "statutory rape" and "sex trafficking" have also been struck from the third-party claim.
Both Katz and Humphries have denied that they ever had a sexual relationship.
The withdrawn allegations were made by Mitchell Taylor Button, a dance teacher, and his wife, Dusty Button, once a principal member of the Boston Ballet, as part of the couple's defence against a sexual abuse lawsuit launched by seven aspiring ballerinas in 2021.
Their third-party claim, filed in July, described a consensual "throuple sexual relationship" with Humphries, the lead plaintiff in the abuse suit, while alleging that she had been involved in three prior sexual relationships as an underage teen with much older men, including Katz. It also claimed that Katz had paid the young dancer $75,000 for "her sexual favours."
The filing included screenshots of text messages, allegedly exchanged between Humphries and Katz, discussing payments of $25,000 and $50,000.
'Simply unfair' to accuse Katz, says filing
In the motion to strike, Marc Randazza, the lawyer for the Buttons, notes that "it is highly unusual for a party to move to strike portions of its own pleadings," but says that information provided to them now "calls into question" their prior claims about how old Humphries was when she had dealings with Katz.
In light of those developments, the filing says it is "simply unfair" to accuse Katz and the other two men of having been involved with Humphries when she was 17.
"The Buttons and their counsel conducted extensive (not just diligent) research to verify the claims that Plaintiff Sage Humphries was underage during the course of events alleged," says the new motion, citing Wikipedia, LexisNexis and Google search results. "To that end, however, Sage Humphries appears to have lied to the Buttons, and other parties, about her age."
Lawyers for Humphries did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the allegations she misrepresented her age.
After the original claim was filed in July, Robert Klieger, the Los Angeles lawyer representing Katz, told CBC News the NHL owner met with Humphries on two occasions in the spring of 2016, and advanced the teenager $50,000 to support a ballet-based film she was pitching to Silver Pictures, his Hollywood production company.
Klieger later provided CBC News with a date of birth indicating that Humphries was 18, not 17, at the time of her film discussions with the Oilers owner. Humphries' lawyer subsequently confirmed the Oct. 1997 birthdate.
Klieger declined comment on the new motions, beyond noting that all the claims against Katz have now been withdrawn and he is no longer a party to the action.
Marc Randazza, who represents the Buttons, also turned down a CBC News interview request.
But in a statement he provided to Sportsnet.ca, the Las Vegas lawyer personally apologized "for any harm the erroneous factual claims may have caused to Mr. Katz and his family."
"Nobody should repeat those allegations in any context without noting that they have been withdrawn and repudiated," Randazza's statement said.
Randazza describes himself as a "First Amendment lawyer," and his website highlights a number of areas of expertise, including civil rights, defamation, the adult entertainment business and the "protection of erotic expression."
He has attracted media attention for some of his controversial clients, including Alex Jones, the Infowars conspiracy theorist, and Andrew Anglin, publisher of the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. Randazza has faced disciplinary proceedings from the Florida, California and Nevada State bar associations.