When Celebrity Help Strikes Back

Rob Lowe's the latest in a long line of stars to get burned by ex-employees.


April 9, 2008 — -- It reads like a Hollywood script, but it's a real-life role nobody wants: Rob Lowe's the latest actor saddled with defending his reputation in the wake of a potential expose by a former live-in employee.

It started on Monday, when Lowe lashed out in a Huffington Post blog, accusing his former nanny, Jessica Gibson, of blackmailing him and his wife, Sheryl Lowe. Lowe said Gibson demanded "$1.5 million by the end of the week or she will accuse us both of a vicious laundry list of false terribles."

Then the "Brothers & Sisters" star took his crusade a step further. He filed lawsuits against Gibson and two other ex-employees Monday, accusing them of breach of contract, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In court documents obtained by ABCNEWS.com, Lowe accuses another former nanny, Laura Boyce, of engaging "in a scheme to hurt the Lowes by spreading malicious lies about each of them" and asks for at least $1 million in damages.

In his lawsuit against Gibson, Lowe says she talked about having "a personal and intimate relationship [with Lowe], and, in effect, [accused] Rob Lowe of infidelity."

Lowe says Gibson "bragged" about giving him a massage during a trip with the Lowe family and told people "she wished he would divorce Sheryl Lowe."

Lowe's third lawsuit alleges that his ex-chef, Peter Clements, had sex on their bed "with third parties" when the family was out of town, stole the family's prescription drugs and overcharged them for food.

ABCNEWS.com's calls to Clements, Gibson and Boyce were not returned. Gibson issued her first public response to the lawsuit in a statement to entertainment news show "Extra" Wednesday, saying, "Our complaint will speak for itself. Everything in the complaint is true. We do not need the media to win the case."

Lowe's the latest in a long line of stars to clash with former live-in employees.

In April 2005, a former nanny for David and Victoria Beckham broke four confidentiality agreements she signed with the star soccer player and Spice Girl by telling a British tabloid juicy details of Beckham's alleged infidelities. Because of a loophole in the agreement, the Beckhams weren't able to prosecute her.

Britney Spears was burned by her ex-bodyguard last September when he appeared as a secret witness in her custody battle with Kevin Federline. Tony Barretto was prepared to testify about "issues of nudity by Ms. Spears, drug use and safety issues involving the children" that he witnessed as her bodyguard before she fired him on May 17, according to his attorney, Gloria Allred. Instead of testifying, his written allegations were entered into court as evidence.

According to Bob King, lawyer and founder of Legally Nanny, a Los Angeles firm that advises clients on legal agreements with nannies, when celebrities invite someone to live and work in their home, they're usually putting themselves at risk. That's why confidentiality agreements are crucial.

"I have had a number of individuals, some celebrities, who have had nannies try to blackmail them," King said. "They've accessed personal computers at home, or overheard business transactions, or seen a spreadsheet left out on a table."

"With celebrities, I will have additional clauses in my agreements that say not only does everything done in the home stay in the home, but you can't talk with other employees about confidential info you may have learned," he added. "You can't say, 'Oh, so-and-so just signed a big movie deal,' or 'So-and-so are getting a divorce.'"

Lowe is no stranger to scandal. After the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, a sex tape surfaced featuring him and two young women, one of them just 16. The controversy that followed nearly ruined his career.

"He's trying to send a message that any potential accusations about him are false and he takes it seriously enough that he's going to do something about it," New York-based lawyer Jay Warren said. "The other reason to do this is to send a message to others who may have worked for him saying, 'I expect you to take your confidentiality agreements seriously.' He's upping the ante to say, 'This stuff isn't just false, it's really false, and I'm willing to take the risk of being questioned in court.'"

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