Michael Simon/startraksphoto; Ida Mae Astute/ABC/AP
Lawyers for FOX News commentator Bill O'Reilly said on Tuesday that they have sought a court order demanding that Andrea Mackris, who accuses O'Reilly of sexual harassment, turn over alleged audiotapes of phone calls between the two of them.
Mackris and her attorney, Benedict Morelli, have been ordered to appear in New York State Supreme Court on Friday to settle the question over the existence of the tapes and to "show cause" why they should not be opened to examination by lawyers for O'Reilly and the FOX News Channel.
FOX News lawyer Ronald Green tells Reuters that he believes Mackris, an associate producer for O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor, recorded conversations with O'Reilly as part of a plan to extort $60 million from him.
O'Reilly, 55 and married with two children, launched a pre-emptive legal strike last Wednesday with a lawsuit accusing Mackris, 33, and Morelli of extortion. The newsman's suit also accuses Morelli, a Democratic contributor, of trying to embarrass FOX News and O'Reilly, both of which are famous for being staunchly conservative.
Morelli has dismissed the notion that his client's suit was politically motivated. Mackris's suit alleges that O'Reilly repeatedly pressured her to engage in phone sex
Green said detailed quotes Mackris attributed to O'Reilly in her lawsuit suggest that tapes of their conversations do exist. "If there are tapes, we want to see them and listen to them, and if not, we just want to get on with this case," he said.