Radio Station Claims Gay Host Sent Homophobic Tweet About Himself As Part of Extortion Scheme

A New Orleans radio station is claiming a homophobic tweet sent from its official Twitter account was actually sent by the gay staffer the message was targeting.

Earlier this month, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was criticized for appearing in a video produced by Focus on the Family (FoF), an evangelical organization known for its zealous opposition to LGBT equality. The clip was promoting FoF's "Bring Your Bible to School Day" on October 3, but opponents slammed Brees for aligning at all with an organization that endorses conversion therapy and spent thousands to fight marriage equality.

Days later, Brees clarified he wasn't homophobic and didn't know about FoF's anti-gay agenda. In a video posted on Twitter, he claimed he did the PSA because he liked the message of people being "able to live out your faith with confidence."

That same day, , an openly gay sports commentator on New Orleans radio station WWL, posted an open letter on Facebook that was sympathetic to Brees. He wrote, "I admittedly have no conception of the amount of requests you receive from organizations asking you to support their causes."

Claiming he believed Brees when he said he was unaware of FoF's homophobic history, Dunlap attempted to educate the star QB: "The FRC and FoF employ an army of hate-mongers and spend millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress and other governmental organizations to impose strictly anti-LGBTQ+ policies."

For some listeners, it was the first time the knew Dunlap was gay.

Five days later, on September 10, the official WWL-AM Twitter account replied to one of Dunlap's tweets about the NFL, calling him "a f*g."

seth dunlap tweet WWL
A tweet from WWL calling openly gay sports commentator Seth Dunlap a homophobic slur.

The tweet was deleted within minutes, but was shared widely online. Nick Underhill, a writer for The Athletic, posted screenshot, writing, "My wife used to tell me not to go on this radio station because she always felt undertones in their political coverage. Looks like she was right."

Hours later, WWL publicly apologized, calling the tweet "categorically offensive and abhorrent to the station." The station added that it was "actively investigating this incident and will take swift and appropriate action once we determine how this occurred."

Dunlap never returned to the air, announcing he was taking a voluntary paid leave of absence. "I informed the station of my decision earlier this afternoon," he tweeted September 12. "This decision was deeply personal and certainly not easy to make. I need to do what's best for me and also what I feel is right.

Now, however, WWL Radio is accusing Dunlap of sending the homophobic tweet himself, as part of a massive extortion scheme.

Seth Dunlap homophobic twitter
Openly gay sports commentator Seth Dunlap is on a leave of absence from WWL after a homophobic tweet was directed at him from the station's official Twitter account. Seth Dunlap @ Facebook

According to a report from the New Orleans Police Department, officials at the station say Dunlap, 35, threatened to go "scorched earth" over the tweet and demanded $1.85 million in compensation. In a complaint filed Tuesday, The Times-Picayune reports, the station maintained a forensic expert discovered the tweet was sent from an IP address associated with Dunlap's cellphone.

WWL Radio implied Dunlap cooked up the scheme to help with financial troubles, claiming it had been receiving numerous letters regarding "wage garnishment" for Dunlap's debts.

"Apparently, Mr. Dunlap has a variety of unpaid credit cards and personal loans, and the companies holding the debt are going into collections for the unpaid amount," the NOPD report read. It also alleged that surveillance footage showed Dunlap in his office with the door closed when the tweet was sent. He then reportedly walked out of his office to show his phone to a co-worker, "apparently talking about the tweet."

According to the Times-Picayune, WWL Senior Vice President Kevin Cassidy and attorneys for the station's parent company, Entercom, claim law enforcement was still working to confirm the accusations. But Dunlap's attorney, Megan Kiefer, says Entercom is "revictimizing" her client, calling the allegations "defamatory and self-serving" and "littered with falsehoods."

She confirmed Dunlap had been discussing a settlement with the station after the tweet, but says the company's attorneys "illegally used the threat of criminal prosecution" to lowball him.

Kiefer insists Dunlap never had access to the password for the station's Twitter profile and did not turn his phone over to investigators because they never asked for it. On Thursday, Dunlap announced he'd passed a lie-detector test about whether or not he had sent the tweet or worked with someone who did.

"It is truly reprehensible [WWL] would be attempting to blame the victim of its own anti-LGBT culture," Kiefer said. "And they are only compounding the severe damage that Mr. Dunlap has experienced at the hands of Entercom."

Dunlap is now filing a discrimination lawsuit, claiming WWL and Entercom allowed "an anti-gay, bigoted and hostile work environment to flourish."