Originally created 11/20/02

Ex-girlfriend of Jordan denies extortion attempt



CHICAGO -- The woman accused of extortion by Michael Jordan responded with her own lawsuit Tuesday, saying he offered her $5 million to keep quiet about their relationship.

Karla Knafel asked the court to force Jordan to pay her the money because he was in breach of contract.

Jordan filed a lawsuit in October, contending he had a relationship with Knafel more than 10 years ago and paid her $250,000 "under threat of publicly exposing that relationship."

Jordan's lawsuit said Knafel tried to extort another $5 million.

On Tuesday, Knafel's lawyer, Michael Hannafan, said: "It was Jordan who initially offered to pay her $5 million in the spring of 1991 for her agreement not to file a public paternity proceeding and for keeping their sexual relationship publicly confidential."

Knafel's lawyer said his client and Jordan had a sexual relationship from 1989 to 1991 in Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix. Knafel discovered she was pregnant shortly after being with Jordan in November 1990, Hannafan said.

At that time, she believed the child was Jordan's, he said.

Jordan then offered her $5 million to buy her silence about their relationship and about the child she thought was his, said Hannafan. He said Knafel is not today claiming the child is Jordan's.

"I will tell you that the alleged claim of extortion by Michael Jordan and his lawyers is nothing but baloney," Hannafan added.

Jordan's attorney, Frederick Sperling, said Tuesday that the basketball great authorized him "to state that the papers Karla Knafel filed with the court today are full of lies. Any allegation that Michael Jordan is the father of any of Karla Knafel's children is completely untrue."

Jordan has asked the court for an injunction barring further extortion efforts and a declaration that Knafel's demand is unenforceable because of her "existing obligation not to publicly expose the relationship."

Jordan and his wife, Juanita, were married more than 12 years ago. She filed for divorce last January but since withdrew the case and issued a joint statement with her husband saying they were attempting reconciliation.