Seth Dunlap

It's been more than two weeks since someone with access to WWL Radio's Twitter account called one of the station's talk show hosts a "fag," and today that host, Seth Dunlap — who is gay — has announced he is suing WWL's parent company Entercom, via a statement sent by his attorney, Megan Kiefer of the Metairie firm Kiefer & Kiefer.

"Once all of the evidence comes to light," the statement says, "the inescapable conclusion is that Entercom has allowed an anti-gay, bigoted, and hostile work environment to flourish, and that Entercom as well as its corporate lawyers were aware of instances of homophobia and discrimination and did nothing to protect Seth or its LGBTQ+ employees."

Fewer than two hours later, WWL Radio issued its first statement since the tweet was sent, saying its investigation had concluded and that it had turned over the matter to the police.

"WWL has completed its investigation into the highly offensive, unauthorized tweet sent from WWL's Twitter account on September 10, which directed a homophobic slur at Seth Dunlap," the statement began. "WWL conducted this investigation with the assistance of an external digital forensic firm and outside counsel, and expended considerable internal resources both in New Orleans and on our corporate staff.

"We determined that the most appropriate next step is to involve law enforcement," the station said. "At this point, the investigation is in the hands of law enforcement and it is not appropriate for us to comment any further on the substance of its findings."

Gary Scheets, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department, confirmed that the radio station turned over materials "that prompted the Eighth District to open an investigation into that information."

In an apparent move to squelch any speculation that Dunlap himself may have sent the tweet in a bid for sympathy or a financial settlement, Dunlap's attorney, Megan Kiefer, announced he has taken a polygraph that "completely exonerated Seth from any involvement in the offense tweet whatsoever."

The polygraph was conducted this morning by David Ehrmann of NOLA Polygraph, a licensed polygraph examiner in the state of Louisiana. According to Ehrmann's report, three pertinent questions were asked:

 R1: Did you send that tweet? No

 R2: Did you send that tweet from WWL? No

 R3: Did you plan with anyone to send that tweet? No

Ehrmann's reported conclusion was "NDI" (no deception indicated).

It's the latest bizarre turn in a story that began Sept. 10, when Dunlap asked listeners a sports-related question on his personal Twitter account.

Someone with access to the official @WWLAMFM Twitter account responded, calling him a "fag."

wwl tweet

The tweet was deleted within minutes, but not before it had been screen-captured and discussed on social media.

Dunlap did his regular radio show that evening, but then announced a leave of absence of unspecified length.

He has not been back on the air since and has refused numerous requests for comment, though on Sept. 13 he issued a general statement through Kiefer.

"Living as an openly gay man can be difficult. Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South is even more difficult," the statement began. "Living as an openly gay man in the Deep South with a career in sports broadcasting, a career field that is traditionally highly homophobic, is incomprehensibly challenging. While I had developed emotional armor throughout my life, that armor was shattered earlier this week when my sexuality became the focus of local and national news headlines as a result of a hateful and homophobic Twitter attack from the official Twitter account of my employer."

WWL Radio and Entercom had remained silent on its investigation until today's statement, which concluded:

"WWL is proud to be a trusted source of news and information for the Gulf South, and we strive to be inclusive at all levels as a steward of the community and a good corporate citizen. We remain committed to supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ community. We apologize to our listeners, clients, partners and employees for this abhorrent, disrespectful act."

Dunlap, who had a long history of sports broadcasting before arriving in New Orleans, began working at the station as a sales representative and quickly worked his way onto the air discussing sports. He co-hosted a show with WWL sports director Kristian Garic for a time before being promoted to his own weeknight solo show, "The Last Lap With Seth Dunlap," in 2017.

The offensive tweet from WWL came days after Dunlap had written a post on his personal Facebook page that was an open letter to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, expressing Dunlap's admiration for Brees and his disappointment that Brees had aligned himself with the Christian organizations Family Research Council (FRC) Focus on the Family (FoF), both of which have held many anti-LGBT positions.

"I’m writing to explain how your partnership with the FRC and FoF has caused pain to so much of the LGBTQ+ community in Louisiana, and to so many of your ardent supporters and fans," Dunlap wrote. 

Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report. 

Dunlap's full statement, as issued by his attorney Megan Kiefer:

It has been fifteen (15) days since WWL tweeted from its official twitter account calling its employee, Seth Dunlap, a “fag”.

Seth has been patient with Entercom Communications during this time, largely withholding public comment in an attempt to allow the investigation to ensue and in hopes of fair and amicable treatment.

To date, Entercom has not apologized to Seth for this incident. Rather, Entercom has refused to provide any evidence whatsoever to Seth regarding their investigation. They have provided no forensic investigatory reports, Twitter data, surveillance footage, interview transcripts or recordings, polygraph results, or any other documents or evidence to Seth or the media relative to their investigation into this shocking event.

Due to the lack of any evidentiary updates from Entercom, Seth voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test administered by a certified and licensed expert polygraph examiner. The results of the testing, which have a 95% accuracy rate, concluded that Seth was truthful during the polygraph testing, and completely exonerated Seth from any involvement in the offense tweet whatsoever. The report is attached.

It is our understanding that up to fourteen (14) Entercom employees have password access to WWL’s twitter account. Seth is not one of the employees that had any access whatsoever to the Twitter account at the time of the offense tweet. Of note, we have requested information about whether Entercom’s employees, including the fourteen employees who have password access to WWL’s twitter account, have submitted to voluntary or mandatory polygraph testing, and Entercom has refused to respond to that request.

Due to the fact that this expansive Pennsylvania corporation has provided absolutely no evidentiary update to us or the media relative to the status of their investigation in over two weeks since this tweet, is concerning and, quite frankly, suspicious.

If Entercom is attempting to use the vast resources at its disposal during this time to create a narrative to avoid its own culpability by implicating any innocent employee, including Seth, we should all be outraged and there should be consequences. It is indisputable that this tweet was egregious and shocking; however, it is unsurprising. In the coming weeks, we will reveal the appalling history of discrimination Seth has experienced during his eight years at Entercom as an openly gay man.

Once all of the evidence comes to light, the inescapable conclusion is that Entercom has allowed an anti-gay, bigoted, and hostile work environment to flourish, and that Entercom as well as its corporate lawyers were aware of instances of homophobia and discrimination and did nothing to protect Seth or its LGBTQ+ employees. We will be preparing a lawsuit and complaint in the upcoming weeks that will discuss these instances in more detail.

WWL Radio's full statement:

WWL has completed its investigation into the highly offensive, unauthorized tweet sent from WWL’s Twitter account on September 10, which directed a homophobic slur at Seth Dunlap. WWL conducted this investigation with the assistance of an external digital forensic firm and outside counsel, and expended considerable internal resources both in New Orleans and on our corporate staff.

We determined that the most appropriate next step is to involve law enforcement. At this point, the investigation is in the hands of law enforcement and it is not appropriate for us to comment any further on the substance of our findings.

WWL is proud to be a trusted source of news and information for the Gulf South, and we strive to be inclusive at all levels as a steward of the community and a good corporate citizen. We remain committed to supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

We apologize to our listeners, clients, partners and employees for this abhorrent, disrespectful act.

 

Follow Kevin Allman on Twitter: @kevinallman

Email Gambit editor Kevin Allman at: kevina@gambitweekly.com.