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Judge seals testimony in Tom Benson competency trial

Tom Benson, Gayle Benson

FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2014, file photo, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson sits on the sideline with his wife Gayle Benson before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in New Orleans. Tom Benson, who owns the Saints and NBA’s Pelicans, asserted in a statement released Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, that removing his daughter and grandchildren from the operation of his sports franchises _ and inserting his wife of 10 years in their place _ will ensure the clubs’ long-term stability and future in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)

AP

Back in the halcyon days of our youth, before #DeflateGate, the NFL had another good soap-opera drama on its hands in New Orleans.

But the bitter family feud between Saints owner Tom Benson and his battling wife and kids won’t be played out in public, at least this chapter.

According to Andy Grimm of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ruled to seal all hearings in the case.

The motion to do so was filed by Benson’s lawyers, as the 87-year-old defends his competency to move his assets from the control of his children and grandchildren to his wife.

Sealing the hearings will thus keep us from hearing the testimony of the family, the nurses and doctors and others who are close to the strange situation, as well as the possibility of Benson himself.

Benson’s children have accused his new wife Gayle of manipulating a doddering old man, feeding him wine and candy and ice cream as he was taking control of the Saints and the NBA Pelicans away from them.

“This case has attracted significant media attention,” Phillip Wittmann, Benson’s attorney said. “If it’s not closed to the public, that confidential medical will be exposed to public scrutiny ... you can’t segregate the medical and financial records from the witness testimony.”

Closing at least parts of such trials isn’t unusual. But it will shield the Bensons from potentially embarrassing details, so it’s no surprise they wanted it as far away from a public spectacle as possible.