Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz has denied an allegation made in a court filing that he paid an 18-year-old woman "at least $75,000" for sex.
Katie Strang of The Athletic reported Katz is named in a counterclaim to a lawsuit filed by a group of ballerinas who say they were sexually abused by dance teacher Mitchell Taylor Button and his wife, Dusty Button.
The counterclaim filed by the Buttons included text messages between the Oilers owner and Sage Humphries, one of the women accusing them of sexual abuse.
Attorney Robert Klieger said Katz and Humphries met twice in 2016 to discuss a film project.
"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," Klieger said in a statement.
Both Katz and Humphries' attorney Sigrid McCawley said the two were never in a sexual relationship, according to an Oilers spokesperson. McCawley provided a statement on her client's relationship with Katz and the Buttons' allegation:
"Sage had a business relationship with Mr. Katz and there was never any sexual relationship between them. 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 text messages show Katz talking to Humphries about making payments of $50,000 and $25,000, per Strang.
It's unclear what the payments were for, beyond Katz wanting Humphries to spend the money on herself. In one message, Katz tells Humphries "even though u r wise beyond your years given our respective ages it would be taken the wrong way," per Strang.
The NHL released a statement saying it is "in the process of looking into the matter."
In a 2017 defamation suit, model and actress Greice Santo said Katz offered her money in exchange for sex during a magazine photoshoot, per CBC's Andrea Huncar. The suit said Santo made a criminal complaint about Katz to police in Hawai'i, but no charges were filed.
Katz has owned the Oilers since 2008.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article said Sage Humphries was a teenager at the time she met Daryl Katz. The article and headline have been updated to reflect that Humphries was 18 years old at the time she met Katz and to include statements from the Oilers and Humphries' attorneys.