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Video: Lawyer: ‘Halderman is not an extortionist’

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    >> 7:04.

    >>> now to the latest on the alleged blackmail plot that's exposed david ledder man's sexual relationships with members of his own staff. we'll talk to the lawyer representing the cbs news producer in the case in a bit, but peter alexander has more.

    >> reporter: this morning we've seen many late show employees arriving here at work. letterman's stunning admission has revealed a series of still-unanswered questions, like how many women were involved in did all the relationships end well, and did any of those women feel pressured by their boss' advances or were they all happily consensual? in the meantime, the man accused of extorting david letterman faces first degree grand larceny charges and if convicted, severe punishment -- up to 15 years behind bars.

    >> i have had sex with women who work for me on this show.

    >> reporter: it was no joke. david letterman 's stunning confession last thursday revealing a bizarre story of interoffice sex, crime and money. now out on bail, robert joe halderman who prosecutors say tried to extort $2 million from letterman, seen this weekend running errands and barking at reporters outside his connecticut home. the 51-year-old, prosecutors say, delivered a package to letterman's car last month. inside, photographs, a page from a personal diary and a letter threatening to expose letterman's sexual relationships if he didn't pay up and warning the comedian his world is about to collapse around him.

    >> there is another side to this story. it is not the open-and-shut case that you just heard about.

    >> reporter: prosecutors say halderman was in debt and court papers shows owes an ex-wife 6,800 a month in child support . his recent live-in was one of letterman's assistants and a familiar face in late-night skit pz.

    >> this is stephanie doing an impression of her old boyfriend dancing.

    >> reporter: "the new york times" reports she had a past sexual relationship with letterman. in a wake forest university alumni magazine from 2003 , she called letterman the greatest boss i could ever have. letterman didn't name any of his co-workers when he addressed his relationships last week.

    >> would it be embarrassing if it were made public? perhaps it would. perhaps it would. especially for the women.

    >> reporter: now other former employees who claim they were involved with letterman are coming forward and some wonder whether any of letterman's office relationships were inappropriate.

    >> now that he's admitted to the world that he was having sex with employees, they may feel comfortable coming forward now saying, we felt uncomfortable all along.

    >> reporter: letterman's production company, worldwide pants , says the comedian didn't violate its policy and no one has ever filed a complaint. for now, letterman's become the bunch. line for the other kings of comedy.

    >> i was shock at letterman that is been having affairs. i had no idea he was even running for office.

    >> if you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host , you've got the wrong studio. i'm sorry.

    >> reporter: for his part, joe haldierman has been suspended from cbs . his next court date is scheduled for november 10th .

    >> peter alexander , thank you.

    >>> criminal defense attorney representing mr. haldierman is here. david letterman went directly to the public and laid out his case. your appearance here today is your client's first chance to be heard. what's his case?

    >> little has been said about joe as a person. as you point out, this has been all about david letterman and the thing about joe as a person, and those who know him think about joe halderman, they think about how unlikely this is, people like dan rather who have worked with joe halderman at cbs news for 27 years. he's been there more than half his life. he's an emmy award winning journalist. when you just go a little beneath the surface it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    >> that said, as you heard the evidence is piling up against him. so why would he go to the length that he did in allegedly delivering a package to letterman with photographs in this package and a letter threatening to expose his sexual relationships ?

    >> those points only take on significance by looking at the surrounding circumstances. what this trial's going to be about, or it will all be about the surrounding circumstances and that's what we --

    >> what do you mean by the "surrounding circumstances" --

    >> motives and intent and it's not only the motive, intent and conduct of joe halderman, but the motive, intent and conduct of david letterman as well. as i said, i look for a to cross examining david letterman .

    >> what do you hope to get out of david letterman ? why are you saying that? it sounds ominous to say that about him at this point.

    >> first i want to point out that the prosecution's case, there was an elaborate press conference and an elaborate statement in court. the prosecution's case, in so many ways, makes no sense. joe halderman is an experienced investigative producer and journalist.

    >> you've said that. but did he warn david letterman that his world was about to collapse around him?

    >> i'm not going to --

    >> did he try to extort $2 million from david letterman ?

    >> let me explain this. this is day four of the case. it started on friday. today is monday. as a responsible lawyer i have a whole lot of investigation to do. i've started that process already. on day four i'm not here to discuss the details of the case. it would be irresponsible to do that. i'm saying that you can't just take at face value what the prosecutor has said. if we all simply accept that unsworn statement, not tested by cross examination , only david letterman 's side of the story, if you take that at face value and say, turn off the sets, that halderman is guilty, that's plainly wrong.

    >> but i think it is fair to say that your client faced an uphill battle . you do as well in representing him in the sense that what prosecutors say they have is a cash $2 million check. what they say they have is evidence accrued by a wire, using a wire, in a conversation in which your client basically talks about the cataloging, the sexual relationships , the information that he's got against david letterman , and demanding $2 million. what do you have to say for that?

    >> you know, i've been doing this a long time. once again i'll say this repeatedly, if you simply accept at face value what the prosecutor is saying, say that's enough for us, i think that's wrong.

    >> can you give us anymr information?

    >> there is a presumption of innocence. i'm not about to share any information on day four of a case. but i will say this -- that the case that's been described by the prosecution makes absolutely no sense. in the history of extortion attempts, there's never been, as far as i know, someone paying by check. but i assure you that the public should not rush to judgment. the public should not simply take the word of david letterman at face value , or the prosecutor at face value . i've been in so many cases where people said, wow, look, that's an overwhelming case and the result at the end of the day was an acquittal. all i'm asking you is to be patient, which you're seemingly not --

    >> no, i am not impatient. i'm just looking for information because we've only heard one side. that's raised a specter as to whether or not can you actually get a fair trial given how widespread david letterman was able to make his side of the story well known.

    >> well, because he has access to the media. he has access to --

    >> i'm giving you access to the media this morning and you're not actually giving your client's side of the story.

    >> but you know what? david letterman didn't give his side of the story. david letterman gave what he wanted the public to know. he wanted to get out ahead of the story and that's exactly what he did. he's a master at manipulating audiences. that's what he does for a living. so to think that david letterman gave the entire story and there's nothing more to be said is simply wrong.

    >> are you prepared to talk about your client's state of mind at this time and what his state of mind is today? for example, we understand that one of -- the names of four women have come forth from the count that i've been able to have, including this name of stephanie burkett that we just with heard about in peter alexander 's piece, an intern assistant who then more recently after dating david letterman dated your client. i'm trying to understand his state of mind during this time. we're also hearing reports that he was having financial troubles because of alimony payments. can you speak to that, sir?

    >> yes, i will speak to that because the prosecutor put a great deal of emphasis on it. but the fact that someone was having financial problems and financial problems just pop in this october of 2009 or september of 2009 , he had been enduring financial problems since his divorce. there's no question about that. but i'm here to say today that after this avalanche of publicity about joe halderman, the extortionist, joe halderman is not an extortionist. he's a person with an impeccable reputation, highly regarded in the industry and he's entitled to the presumption of innocence.

    >> is he innocent?

    >> he's innocent.

    >> jerry, thank you so much this morning. now let's get a check of the rest of the morning's top stories

updated 10/5/2009 4:52:11 PM ET 2009-10-05T20:52:11

A CBS producer accused of blackmailing David Letterman used pages from a former assistant’s diary that described an affair with the “Late Night” host, a law enforcement official confirmed Monday.

Stephanie Birkitt, 34, works on the show and lived in Norwalk, Conn., with Robert Halderman until August. Halderman copied parts of Birkitt’s diary, which contained details of her affair with Letterman, and tried to use it as blackmail fodder, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Halderman pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court last week to a count of attempted first-degree grand larceny in the $2 million plot. Letterman divulged details of the alleged extortion caper during his show, including the admission that he had had affairs with women who worked for him on “Late Night.”

Birkitt was an assistant to Letterman and frequently appeared on camera with the host in comedy bits. She has also worked at “48 Hours Mystery.” Calls to her home and her parents’ home in New Hampshire went unanswered; a message left at her father’s dental office wasn’t returned Monday.

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She moved in August to Manhattan, to a second-floor apartment of an Upper West Side co-op building. Neighbors said they did not know her well, and never saw Letterman in the building.

“She seems like an enigma,” said Iris Rutkoski. “Nobody seems to know her in the building.”

Rutkoski said she might have said hello to Birkitt in passing, but “I wouldn’t recognize her to fall over her. She was not the kind to chat with her neighbors.”

Halderman apparently copied the pages before they broke up, using them together with other e-mails and information in a package left in Letterman’s limousine that was intended to extort money from him, officials said.

Halderman’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, said Monday the charge against his client is “so obviously out of character to the point of not making any sense.” Shargel said that Letterman manipulates audiences for a living and that to think he “gave the entire story and there’s nothing more to be said is simply wrong.”

CBS said it had no comment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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