Attorneys for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones argued Friday that a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault should be dismissed because an Oklahoma woman waited too long to file it.
State District Judge Dale Tillery did not immediately rule on whether Texas statute of limitations laws prevent Jana Weckerly's lawsuit from proceeding.
Weckerly's lawsuit accuses Jones of grabbing her genitals and kissing her without her consent in 2009. She also accuses Jones, the Cowboys and attorney Levi McCathern of conspiring to keep her quiet by paying her hush money for at least four years. Jones, the team and McCathern have denied all of her allegations.
The hearing Friday centered only on whether Weckerly had filed her lawsuit too late -- not on the validity of her claims. Texas law sets a five-year limit on civil cases alleging sexual assault and a two-year limit on cases involving a civil conspiracy, attorneys for both sides said Friday.
Thomas Bowers, Weckerly's attorney, said the alleged ongoing payments were part of a larger plot to intimidate her and keep her from going to the police or the courts before the statute of limitations expired.
"Who is my client to go against a billion-dollar man?" Bowers said, adding, "She just did what she was told, judge."
But McCathern and Gregory Shamoun, another attorney for Jones, denied any payments were made and said that even if they were, Weckerly could not have felt continuing pressure to take money for years afterward.
McCathern pointed to the courtroom gallery, which was packed with reporters and television cameras, and said that he wasn't pressuring anyone "if I go over here and give all of them $100."
He also argued that Weckerly's arguments would make statutes of limitations irrelevant.
"Every time you miss a statute of limitations, you show up and say, `Hey, I was under duress,"' McCathern said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 16. Weckerly is seeking damages of more than $1 million.