A 25-year-old woman is suing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, alleging that the billionaire paid her mother hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1996 to conceal that he was the girl's biological father, a secret that the lawsuit says she has carried her entire life.
At the age of 1, the girl was bound to secrecy by a confidentiality agreement signed by her mother, according to the lawsuit.
Jones denied in settlement documents that he was the biological father of the child. But he paid the woman $375,000 "in exchange for confidentiality" and had an Arkansas friend and lawyer named Donald Jack set up two trusts for the girl linked to her and her mother, keeping Jones' paternity a secret, according to the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.
A Texas judge ordered the case sealed this week after a motion filed by Jones' lawyer.
The Dallas Morning News first reported on the lawsuit earlier Wednesday.
Alexandra Davis, who lives in Washington, D.C., filed her lawsuit against Jones, now 79, in Dallas County court last Thursday. It says Jones courted her mother, Cynthia Davis Spencer, in 1995, when she was working at the American Airlines ticket counter in Little Rock, Arkansas. Spencer was estranged from her husband at the time, the lawsuit says.
Alexandra Davis "has lived her life fatherless and in secret and in fear that if she should tell anyone who her father was, she and her mother would lose financial support, or worse," the lawsuit alleges.
"Plaintiff has had to endure the endless public profiles of her father and siblings while forced to remain secret to everyone, including her closest confidants," it says.
Jones and his wife, Gene, have three children -- Stephen, Jerry Jr. and Charlotte Jones Anderson.
Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman for Jones, declined to comment. Davis' Dallas-based attorney, Andrew Bergman, also declined to comment.
Davis has asked a court to be recognized as Jones' daughter and to be released from the confidentiality agreement that her mother agreed to when she was a baby.
"It is hard to imagine what could be less in the best interest of a child than to enforce agreements that leave a child without a father and which prevent or legally punish a child from even stating who her father is," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that Jones "abandoned and shunned" Davis and forced her to live in secrecy after her birth in Little Rock on Dec. 16, 1996.
"The combined effects of the aforementioned agreements and Cynthia's divorce proceedings resulted in Plaintiff never having a legal father," the lawsuit says. "To add incredible insult to injury, Plaintiff has had to spend her entire life hiding and concealing who her real father is. Defendant Jones' only role in Plaintiff's life to date other than to shun her, has been to coerce her from ever disclosing his identity."
Despite that, the lawsuit says that Davis has "excelled academically and professionally." She now works as an aide to U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, after working for 14 months in the White House during Trump's presidency.
After Davis' birth, Davis Spencer and Jones worked together to conceal his paternity, the lawsuit says.
"Faced with the literal existence of Plaintiff and the public and personal ramifications that would result therefrom, Defendant Jones, forever the deal making entrepreneur that he is, decided to do what he always does -- 'make a deal' to assure that he would not be publicly or privately identified and/or declared as Plaintiff's father," the lawsuit says.
Davis Spencer was going through a divorce at the time, the lawsuit alleges.
"Defendant Jones, with the help of lawyers, knowing that Cynthia was now a single mother with a very young child and an uncertain financial future at best, set out to negotiate a 'settlement' that would exchange money for silence ['hush money']," the lawsuit says.
Jones is alleged to have set up two trusts that the lawsuit alleges contained "the hush money payment and the hush money terms," including $375,000 paid to Davis Spencer. Jones agreed to "provide, through indirect means and with his personal identity hidden, ongoing financial support for Cynthia and Plaintiff so long as Cynthia remained silent about the fact that he was Plaintiff's father," the lawsuit alleges. "If Cynthia failed to maintain such silence, the support would end at Defendant Jones' discretion and Cynthia would supposedly be in breach of the deal."
The lawsuit was posted on the Dallas County courts' website Monday and thus available to hundreds of Texas lawyers and other members of the public. The team discovered it late Monday and on Tuesday went into court and persuaded a judge to place Davis' lawsuit temporarily under seal, pending a March 31 hearing.
Last month, ESPN reported that the Cowboys paid a $2.4 million confidential settlement with four members of their cheerleading squad who accused a now-former team executive of voyeurism in their locker room in September 2015. According to a 2016 settlement agreement and non-disclosure agreement, the cheerleaders accused Richard Dalrymple of using his security key card to enter the back door of their locked dressing room during an event at AT&T Stadium. One of the women alleged she clearly saw Dalrymple standing behind a partial wall with his iPhone extended toward them as they were changing their clothes.
In a second allegation, a Cowboys fan who was watching a livestream from the team's war room during the 2015 NFL draft swore in an affidavit that he saw Dalrymple take "upskirt" photos of Charlotte Jones Anderson.
Dalrymple, who retired Feb. 2, did not respond to interview requests by ESPN. He issued a statement through the team that called both allegations false.