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Dentsu, Biegel Reach Settlement

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BOSTON Dentsu and Steve Biegel, a former svp, cd at the shop's New York office, today issued a joint statement saying they had settled their bitter legal battle, though terms were not disclosed.

Biegel had originally sued the agency for discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and Dentsu threatened to bring counterclaims for defamation and fraud.

The brief statement today read, in part: "As a result of this settlement, those allegations and claims have been dismissed, including any potential counterclaims that have not been asserted by Dentsu. Both parties retract all public statements."

The statement continues: "Any other terms of the settlement shall remain confidential, and the parties have agreed not to disclose anything regarding this case or its settlement. Through this settlement, both parties wish to put the dispute behind them and move on to successful future endeavors."

The case began last October when the former Dentsu exec filed his original complaint against Dentsu's top North American executive, Toyo Shigeta, and Tim Andree, Dentsu America's CEO, who fired the cd in November 2006. (Today's statement asserts that "his termination was not performance based," but does not elaborate.)

In court papers, Biegel made lurid claims against Shigeta, alleging the former cd was forced to visit a brothel and a Japanese bathhouse and had to watch Shigeta photographing women on a Brazilian beach during agency business trips. Biegel also claimed Shigeta showed him a "crotch shot" of a fully-clothed Maria Sharapova, allegedly taken by Shigeta, without the tennis star's knowledge, while she was on a photo shoot for Dentsu client Canon.

Dentsu executives denied the claims and in November filed the motion to dismiss, saying if Biegel believed the claims were valid, they should have been made while he was an employee or that he should have filed the suit a year earlier when he was fired. Instead, Dentsu argued in a November 2007 motion, Biegel prepared a draft of his lawsuit and showed it to two of the agency's largest clients while he and attorney Andrew Dwyer attempted to secure a $1 million payout from Dentsu.

Attorneys for both sides did not return calls.