Yoko Ono’s ex-driver seeks bail again; lawyer files letter


NEW YORK (AP) – Yoko Ono’s jailed driver was requesting payment for years of sexual harassment and abuse, and not blackmail money, when he asked the widow of Beatle John Lennon for $2 million, a bail application filed Tuesday says.

In support of that claim, a lawyer for chauffeur Koral Karsan filed the letter Karsan wrote that prosecutors said proved he had threatened to humiliate Ono unless she gave him the money.

In the letter, dated December 2006, Karsan portrays himself as an abused employee seeking justice. He says Ono’s demands on him had destroyed his family.

“My wife has now left me because of the relationship between you and me,” his letter to Ono says.

Karsan’s letter, filed by defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb, tells Ono that he had decided to pursue a sex harassment lawsuit against her. But he then demands that Ono give him $2 million or risk having him release material that “quite frankly will astound the world.”

The information and material Karsan says he would divulge, and that he said he had been compiling since 1996, included:

• Recordings of Ono’s son, Sean Lennon, telling his girlfriend that his father was “a wife-beating (expletive)”

• Ono’s “political statements against the British and U.S. governments”

• Ono’s “numerous critical comments about your son, daughter, the Beatles and your friends” including Rolling Stone publisher Jan Wenner, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others

• The story of Ono “getting raped during World War II in a Japanese farm and the effects of this act on your relationships with men including John.”

“Depending on the outcome of our dealings, I will not only write about these recordings but will also distribute them to European broadcasting stations throughout the future,” the Karsan letter to Ono says.

Karsan, 50, was arrested Dec. 13 on a charge of attempted grand larceny after Ono complained to authorities. He has pleaded not guilty. Tuesday’s application was the fourth attempt to get bail for him.

Assistant District Attorney Anne Schwartz has objected to his release on bail. She says Karsan, who is in the country illegally and is the subject of a detention order from immigration officials, will likely flee to his native Turkey if freed.

Schwartz has also said that the case against Karsan, which includes the letter to Ono and threats at other times to have her killed, is strong and that he faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Gottlieb has said that Ono accused Karsan to head off the sexual harassment claim and that Ono pressured Karsan to commit “immoral and illegal acts.” He said Tuesday that the letter shows simply that Karsan was willing to forgo filing of a planned sexual harassment lawsuit in exchange for compensation.

Ono spokesman Elliot Mintz has said any intimation of a sexual liaison between Ono and Karsan was an “obfuscation” of “a clear, obvious, transparent shakedown.”

The bail application will be argued Thursday before state Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office had no comment on the application.

Police have said Karsan presented his extortion pitch to Ono on Dec. 8, 26 years to the day after Lennon was fatally shot in front of the Dakota, the Manhattan apartment building where they lived and she still lives.