Dentsu Judge Asks Biegel for Info

NEW YORK A U.S. District Court judge has asked former Dentsu cd Steve Biegel for more information to support his allegations of sexual harassment against the agency.

However, the judge also said Dentsu’s motion to dismiss many of the claims made in a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit Biegel filed last October would be denied.

In a Jan. 7 letter to both sides’ counsel, Judge Colleen McMahon cited Dentsu’s right to a viable Faragher-Ellereth defense. Named for two Supreme Court decisions, Faragher-Ellereth is termed an “affirmative defense” in which Dentsu can argue it had an adequate sexual harassment policy in place.

Biegel now has until Jan. 17 to provide evidence about when and to whom he complained at Dentsu about the various incidents that allegedly constituted harassment. Dentsu then has five days to respond.

Biegel attorney Andy Dwyer of the Dwyer Law Firm declined comment as did Dan Moretti of Dentsu’s law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Dentsu executives also declined comment.

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 creative director in November 2006.

In court papers, Biegel made lurid claims against Shigeta, alleging the former cd was forced to visit a Prague 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 its November motion, Biegel prepared a draft of his lawsuit and showed it to two of the agency’s largest clients while he and Dwyer attempted to secure a $1 million payout from Dentsu.