A 26-year-old woman on Monday filed a federal defamation suit against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a longtime Arkansas friend and a Cowboys spokesman, alleging the three men "initiated a deliberate plan" to portray the billionaire's "own daughter ... as an 'extortionist' and a 'shakedown artist' whose motivation was money and greed."
Alexandra Davis, a Congressional aide, sought recognition as Jones' daughter in a lawsuit filed last year that indicated Jones paid her $375,000 and set up two trusts to conceal that he was Davis' biological father. The new lawsuit states that in the weeks after Davis' March 2022 filing, Jones and his representatives waged a public campaign attacking her character, "based knowingly on false statements and accusations."
Davis' latest lawsuit, filed in Texarkana, Texas, federal court, names three defendants: Jones; his longtime Arkansas lawyer and friend, Donald T. Jack Jr.; and Jones' outside communications consultant, Jim Wilkinson. Davis is seeking an unspecified amount in actual and punitive damages.
"Not once did Defendant Jones or any of his agents ever deny that Plaintiff was Defendant Jones' daughter," Davis' Dallas lawyers, Jay K. Gray and Andrew A. Bergman, wrote in the 22-page defamation complaint. "Instead, Defendant Jones chose the avenue of calling his own daughter an 'extortionist' merely to make his own public image less despicable by attempting to discredit Plaintiff's reputation and character in the public eye."
In a statement released to ESPN on Monday, Davis said her initial lawsuit had only one goal: For Jones to "acknowledge" he was her father.
"Rather than acknowledging his child, or even taking the opportunity to get to know his child, my father and his associates have publicly smeared my reputation and intentions," she said in the statement provided by her lawyers.
"I have been falsely accused of a 'shakedown' and 'extortion.' In reality, I am a daughter who simply wants to acknowledge her father without fear of retribution. I will not stand by and let my father's actions or words define me or my future."
Jones was attending the NFL's annual league meetings in Phoenix on Monday and was unavailable for comment. His lawyer, Levi G. McCathern II, also was unavailable for comment.
Wilkinson declined to comment. Jack could not be reached for comment.
In her initial lawsuit filed last March, Davis asked a court to be recognized as Jones' daughter and to be released from the confidentiality agreement her mother agreed to when she was a baby. In December, the court ordered Jones to submit to a paternity test that has been delayed until at least May.
Since last spring, both sides have traded accusations, in court and in public, about each other's motives. Davis and her lawyers have insisted she is not motivated by money. But Jones' spokesman told ESPN last year that Bergman, one of Davis' lawyers, told McCathern in a meeting: "If you want this just to go away, it's going to cost you Zeke [Ezekiel Elliott] or Dak [Prescott] money." Bergman has insisted he has never asked for a dollar to settle the case.
In the latest lawsuit, Davis alleges that Wilkinson and Jack both portrayed her as "an extortionist" in a March 31, 2022, ESPN article. In the story, Jack was quoted as saying he had dinner with Davis years earlier and that she handed him a letter to Jones seeking $20 million.
But the lawsuit indicates that letter was a written exercise by Davis, on the advice of her therapist, to work through her feelings about Jones.
"The purpose and content of this writing was an attempt by Plaintiff to share her anguish about the lack of relationship with her father and plead with Defendant Jones for a simple meeting of any kind," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges that the "slander campaign" by Jones, Jack and Wilkinson portrayed Davis as "an extortionist that was in 'conspiracy' with others supposedly attempting to extort money from the Jones family."
The "others" referred to in the lawsuit include four Cowboys cheerleaders who accused a team executive, Richard Dalrymple, of voyeurism in their locker room in 2015. In February 2022, ESPN reported that the team paid a $2.4 million secret settlement to the women. Dalrymple, who denied the allegation, resigned a week before the story was published.
Last March, Wilkinson told ESPN, "This whole saga and series of recent attacks amounts to nothing more than an amateurish coordination among various parties to try to shake down the Jones family for money."
"This statement was patently false," the Davis lawyers say in their lawsuit filed Monday. "At no time did Plaintiff attempt to 'shake down' Defendant Jones, nor did Plaintiff coordinate with any other party or person in seeking her legal right to determine her legal father."
Davis now works as an aide to U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, and prior to that, she worked as an aide in the Trump White House. She has said nothing publicly about her allegation except for a series of statements released by her lawyers.
The lawyers allege that Jones' "smear campaign" has destroyed Davis' reputation. "The Google search 'Alexandra Davis extortionist' results in over 4,000,000 hits alone," they wrote in the lawsuit.
"From the beginning, Ms. Davis has never demanded a single dollar in return for not seeking to establish Mr. Jones' parentage," Bergman said in a statement. "Likewise, Ms. Davis has never worked in concert with any parties, including those involved in Mr. Jones' myriad other public and private scandals. Ms. Davis initially sought a quiet acknowledgement. However, Mr. Jones and his team forced this very private matter into the public arena."
Jerry Jones was alleged to have paid $375,000 to Davis' mother, Cynthia Spencer Davis, whom the lawsuit states was courted by Jones in 1995 when she was working at the American Airlines ticket counter in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Alexandra Davis has said that she'd had to carry the secret that Jones was her father her entire life. At the age of 1, she said she was bound to secrecy by a confidentiality agreement signed by her mother with Jones and Jack, the longtime friend of Jones. Jack has said that Jones has paid nearly $3 million to Davis, including her full tuition at Southern Methodist University and a $70,000 Range Rover on her 16th birthday.
In the statement released by her lawyers on Monday, Davis said that her "second life" as Jones' daughter "was known only by attorneys, therapists, my mother, me, and my father, Jerry Jones. This life was the limited space I had to cope with the realization that my own father would rather use money to silence, conceal, and intimidate me than know his daughter."