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Detectives examining alleged extortion attempt by Mel Gibson's ex-girlfriend

July 21, 2010 | 10:19 am


Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives were "looking into" whether Mel Gibson's ex-girlfriend tried to extort money from him in connection with a series of taped phone calls and allegations of domestic abuse, an official said Wednesday.

Sheriff's detectives already have been examining allegations by Oksana Grigorieva that Gibson hurt her and their child. Now, that inquiry has been expanded to include the extortion allegations, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the sheriff's department.

Sources familiar with the ongoing domestic-abuse investigation said detectives met with Gibson's lawyers Tuesday.

Gibson's lawyers have strongly denied allegations of domestic abuse against the film star.

Sheriff's detectives obtained the audio tapes during a recent closed-door hearing in the Gibson-Grigorieva child custody case. 

There has been debate about whether the recordings would be admissible even if a domestic violence case were to go to criminal court.

Of the audio clips released by Radar Online, the most damaging in a criminal case likely would be an exchange in which Gibson apparently told Grigorieva that she "deserved" to be hit.

But the volatile conversation, in which Gibson also uses derogatory terms for women, Latinos and African Americans, was apparently recorded without the "Lethal Weapon" star's permission.

In California, both parties must consent to have a phone conversation recorded. Under normal circumstances, legal experts said, that would make the Gibson tapes unusable in court and their recording potentially a crime.

-- Richard Winton

Photo credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times