A New Orleans judge has rejected an arrest warrant for a gay ex-radio host accused of fabricating an antigay tweet from his former station.
Last Wednesday, Magistrate Commissioner Robert Blackburn denied a police detective's application to apprehend Seth Dunlap, a former sportscaster on WWL Radio, on a count of extortion, reports the online version of The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate.
Blackburn reportedly found the evidence presented by the detective insufficient to justify the felony charge of extortion, which is defined under Louisiana law as "the communication of threats to another with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value."
On October 31, WWL Radio fired Dunlap and accused him of using the station’s Twitter account to hurl an antigay slur at himself. Station representatives said Dunlap had filed a workplace harassment claim and demanded a settlement of nearly $2 million. He reportedly vowed to go "scorched earth" on his former employer if it did not pay the settlement.
The controversy began in September after Dunlap penned an open letter to Drew Brees; the New Orleans Saints quarterback drew national criticism for appearing in a video produced by Focus on the Family, and Dunlap outlined to Brees why his association with the anti-LGBTQ group was problematic.
Shortly after that, Dunlap in a separate Twitter discussion had a reply from the official WWL Radio account saying “you’re a fag.” Dunlap then took a leave of absence and slammed the "hateful and homophobic Twitter attack from the official Twitter account of my employer" in an open letter.
However, the WWL Radio internal investigation found the tweet originated from the IP address associated with Dunlap’s cell phone. The station reported the matter to the New Orleans Police Department. Meanwhile, Dunlap has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.
If the NOPD wants to pursue an arrest warrant against Dunlap, it must now either produce additional evidence to justify the count of extortion or present the same evidence under a new charge. The department said the investigation is "active and ongoing" as of Friday.