The family claims that Oher was going to 'plant a negative story' if they did not pay him $15 million.
The Tuohy family is speaking out about the drama between them and Michel Oher. Oher filed a lawsuit on Monday that alleges that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy tricked him into a conservatorship and lied about his adoption status.
Martin Singer, the attorney for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, tells ET that the Oher's claims are "outlandish," "hurtful," and "absurd."
"Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see that the outlandish claims made by Michael Oher about the Tuohy family are hurtful and absurd. The idea that the Tuohys have ever sought to profit off Mr. Oher is not only offensive, it is transparently ridiculous," Singer says. "Through hard work and good fortune, Sean and Leigh Anne have made an extraordinary amount of money in the restaurant business. The notion that a couple worth hundreds of millions of dollars would connive to withhold a few thousand dollars in profit participation payments from anyone – let alone from someone they loved as a son -- defies belief."
In addition to denying Oher's claims, the Tuohy family alleges that Oher threatened them and said he would plant a negative story about their family in the press if they did not pay him $15 million.
"In reality, the Tuohys opened their home to Mr. Oher, offered him structure, support and, most of all, unconditional love. They have consistently treated him like a son and one of their three children," Singer's statement continues. "His response was to threaten them, including saying that he would plant a negative story about them in the press unless they paid him $15 million."
The family also claims that there is evidence that the former NFL star profited equally from The Blind Side, the film about Oher's alleged adoption and his rise to football fame.
"When Michael Lewis (the author of the book The Blind Side), a friend of Sean’s since childhood, was approached about turning his book on Mr. Oher and the Tuohys into a movie about their family, his agents negotiated a deal where they received a small advance from the production company and a tiny percentage of net profits," the statement notes. "They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge."
Singer continues, "The evidence -- documented in profit participation checks and studio accounting statements – is clear: over the years, the Tuohys have given Mr. Oher an equal cut of every penny received from The Blind Side. Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he would do unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks from the Tuohys, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son."
Despite Oher's lawsuit, the Tuohy family claims they've been upfront about the conservatorship and why and how it was established.
"Additionally, in spite of the false allegation in the lawsuit, the Tuohys have always been upfront about how a conservatorship (from which not one penny was received) was established to assist with Mr. Oher’s needs, ranging from getting him health insurance and obtaining a driver’s license to helping with college admissions. Should Mr. Oher wish to terminate the conservatorship, either now or at any time in the future, the Tuohys will never oppose it in any way," the statement explains. "Unbeknownst to the public, Mr. Oher has actually attempted to run this play several times before – but it seems that numerous other lawyers stopped representing him once they saw the evidence and learned the truth. Sadly, Mr. Oher has finally found a willing enabler and filed this ludicrous lawsuit as a cynical attempt to drum up attention in the middle of his latest book tour."
Despite the legal back-and-forth between the family, the Tuohys say they will always care for Oher and are "heartbroken" over the week's events.
"The Tuohys will always care deeply for Mr. Oher. They are heartbroken over these events. They desperately hope that he comes to regret his recent decisions, makes different choices in the future and that they someday can be reconciled with him. In the meantime, however, they will not hesitate to defend their good names, stand up to this shakedown and defeat this offensive lawsuit," the statement concludes.
During an appearance on NewsNation's Cuomo, Steve Farese, Sr., an attorney for the family, was asked why Oher was not given more than an allegedly equal distribution of the movie money. "Because that was what was agreed upon by the family during a family meeting," Farese responded. "And you have to understand, Chris, this story wasn't just about Michael Oher. This story was about a family, about a brother, about a sister, about a mother, about a father. All of them sacrificed for Michael."
Farese told Cuomo, "When the proof comes out, everyone will see the truth. You know, numbers don't lie, paper trails don't lie. And when the proper time comes and we present the truth, I think it will be evident to everyone of what's going on here."
The Tuohys' statement comes after Oher spoke out following the filing of his lawsuit against the family, calling the situation difficult.
"I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit today," Oher told ET through his rep on Tuesday. "This is a difficult situation for my family and me. I want to ask everyone to please respect our privacy at this time. For now, I will let the lawsuit speak for itself and will offer no further comment."
Oher claims he only learned details of the conservatorship in February. He said the Tuohys allegedly told him there was no consequential difference between being adopted and entering into a conservatorship, giving them legal authority to make business deals in his name.
The former NFL star also claims that he was asked to sign papers under the belief that it was part of the "adoption process," but that they were actually conservatorship papers that would strip away his legal rights. The documents, filed in 2004, say the Tuohys "have all powers of attorney to act on his behalf" and that Oher "shall not be allowed to enter into any contracts or bind himself without the direct approval of his conservators."
The 14-page petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court, by Oher on Monday, alleges that the Tuohys used their power as conservators to negotiate a deal with 20th Century Fox that paid them and their biological children -- Collins Tuohy and Sean Tuohy Jr. -- millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side, which earned more than $330 million. The petition alleges that all four members of the Tuohy family were paid $225,000 for the film plus 2.5% of the film's proceeds.
Oher claims that he "at no time willingly or knowingly" signed said contract, which gives away the "perpetual, unconditional, and exclusive" rights to his name, likeness, voice, appearance, personality, personal experiences, incidents, situations, and events taken from his life with no payment. The document has a signature that appears to be his, but the petition claims "nobody ever presented this document to him with any explanation."
The Tuohys have continued to call Oher their son and Oher says they have used the assertion to promote their foundation and Leigh Anne's work as a motivational speaker and author.