Was the David Letterman extortion plot all just a big misunderstanding?
That was Tuesday's argument from an attorney for defendant Robert Halderman — the CBS producer accused of attempting to blackmail the talk show host with incriminating details about his affairs with female staffers.
Asking a New York judge to dismiss Halderman's indictment, defense lawyer Gerald Shargel said that his client wasn't blackmailing anyone; instead, he was trying to make a "hard-driven" deal to sell rights to a screenplay inspired by Letterman's sexually-charged workplace, reports the Daily News.
In fact, Shargel argues, the prosecution's case against the accused man "infringes on Halderman's basic First Amendment right to author and/or sell a book."
On Oct. 1, Halderman was arrested for attempting to extort $2 million from Letterman with a threat to leak information about his sexual affairs with female employees on his Late Show.
Papers released in court detail what Halderman's attorney characterizes as aggressive attempts to get a lucrative deal for a screenplay. Halderman observed that "Letterman had created and fostered an environment of workplace sexual misconduct that under any definition amounted to actionable sexual harassment."
On a personal note, Halderman also discovered that his live-in girlfriend, Late Show staffer Stephanie Birkitt, was having an affair with Letterman — the prosecution is arguing that his ensuing anger fueled his blackmail plot.
Halderman is currently charged with first-degree grand larceny.
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