A judge on Wednesday denied New Orleans police an arrest warrant for Seth Dunlap, the radio host accused of directing a homophobic slur at himself from his employer’s Twitter account in an attempt to extort millions from the station.
The Times Picayune reports that the evidence presented by the detective wasn’t enough to convince the judge that it warranted an arrest for extortion: “Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn rejected the warrant. The sources said Blackburn didn’t find the evidence backed up a charge of extortion, which is defined as making threats to a person ‘with the intention (to) obtain anything of value.’ The extent of the threat that Dunlap is accused of making — he allegedly warned he would go “scorched earth” on the station if it didn’t accede to his settlement demands — didn’t justify the felony charge, Blackburn said.”
The judge told NOPD that it could still pursue a warrant for a different offense, or obtain further evidence that would warrant an extortion charge.
The story began in early September when Dunlap, former host of “The Last Lap” on the New Orleans Saints’ radio network WWL Radio, published an open letter to Drew Brees on Facebook in which he shared his perspective as a gay man and expressed disappointment with Brees’s involvement with the anti-LGBTQ group Focus on the Family.
Five days after the open letter was published, his radio station’s own Twitter account called Dunlap a “fag”. The tweet containing the slur was deleted, but not before it had been captured and shared across social media.
In October, police obtained a search warrant for Dunlap’s phone records after news emerged that WWL Radio and its parent company Entercom alleged that Dunlap sent the homophobic tweet himself in an attempt to extort $1.8 million from the station.
NOLA.com reported: “The station told the NOPD that the forensic investigation found an IP address — a unique number given to a piece of hardware, such as a cellphone — connected to the tweet that was associated with Dunlap’s phone. Megan Kiefer, Dunlap’s attorney, has disputed the claims, saying the radio station has not done anything to prove them. She’s noted that her client passed a lie-detector test centering on his denials that he sent the tweet in question.”
Dunlap has been fired by the station as the investigation continues.