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Lowe's Preemptive Strike Gets Good Reviews

A leading defense attorney and a respected Hollywood observer are giving a thumbs-up to Rob Lowe's attempt to short-circuit what the actor claims is an attempt by an ex-nanny to extort $1.5 million from him and his wife.

Lowe, whose career was almost derailed 20-years-ago when he was videotaped having sex with a 16-year old-girl, went public about the purported scheme before the new supposed allegations could even hit.

On the Huffington Post on Monday, Lowe responded in advance to what he said would be an accusation that he made repeated, unwanted sexual advances toward the former nanny, saying, "A former employee is demanding my wife, Sheryl, and I pay her $1.5 million by the end of the week, or she will accuse us both of a vicious laundry list of false terribles."

Earlier that day, the Lowes filed court documents alleging that three former employees broke a confidentiality agreement.

CBS News legal analyst Mickey Sherman predicts, "A lot of people will criticize Rob Lowe, saying 'What are you filing a lawsuit for? This only brings attention.' Well, on the other hand, this is what stops these things dead. Who is she gonna get for a lawyer? There's not gonna be a pot of gold here. Rob Lowe came out swinging, as well he should have."

People magazine Executive Editor and Early Show entertainment contributor Jess Cagle said on the show Wednesday it's "much better for his image than having these (accusations) come out and he has to respond. He's on the offense, not the defense."

Lowe's not alone on the extortion front. Over the years, swindlers have threatened some of Hollywood's elite.

In 2007, a man attempted to sell unauthorized wedding photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes to the couple for $1 million. A Chicago man tried to extort $1.5 million from Oprah Winfrey to quash what he said would be a very unflattering book. In both cases, the alleged extortionists were arrested.

Cagle said it's "actually surprising that (Lowe) did this ... because, usually, celebrities, just like big corporations, will often just pay a little money and make this go away. He clearly did not want to do that. He wanted to come out swinging. He wanted to put the allegations out himself first, so maybe there would be some doubt.

"If the former nanny had come forward and said, 'Rob Lowe sexually harassed me," I think a lot of people would have believed it. This way, there's a lot of doubt in people's minds as to the veracity of these allegations."

Lowe, says Cagle, accused all three ex-employees, one of them also a nanny and the other a chef, of breaching confidentiality agreements but, "He hit them really hard. He claimed the chef, for example, had sex in his house when they were not there. He accused (the other) former nanny of conspiring with others to damage his reputation and his wife's reputation, which implies that these people were maybe in on this (alleged) extortion plot."

Cagle stressed that, "We have not heard the other side of any of these people who (Lowe) says are accusing him. I think we have to wait and watch this play out and see if anything comes forward" favoring one side or the other.

Why do extortionists target celebrities? Because that's where the money is, says Cagle: "They have a lot of money. They want nothing less than bad publicity. A lot of times, they're willing to pay money to make it go away. You don't hear a lot about these extortion plots, but I think it's much more common than people know. Celebrities usually pay to make them go away."

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