Ex-CEO slapped with ‘sex slave’ allegations accuses celeb lawyer of $10M shakedown

A tech CEO who allegedly forced a former assistant to become his “sex slave” claims the accusations surfaced only after a powerful Hollywood lawyer attempted to shake him down for $10 million for a “quick payday,” The Post has learned.

Christian Lanng — who left the helm of San Francisco-based tech unicorn Tradeshift in October over allegations of “serious assault and harassment” — claims in an explosive countersuit that a month earlier he was getting threatening text messages from Bryan Freedman, a Los Angeles attorney whose celebrity clients include ex-CNN host Don Lemon and reality-TV star Bethenny Frankel.

“I have been asked by a major media outlet if you would appear to explain your side of the story this week in conjunction with the claims being filed,” Freedman told Lanng in a Sept. 4 text message, according to the countersuit filed in the US Northern District of California.

Former tech CEO Christian Lanng has maintained that his relationship with a former assistant was consensual and the slave contract “was merely a sexual prop downloaded from the internet” after Lanng and Jane Doe’s relationship came to include “elements of BDSM.” TradeShift

The media outlet was TMZ, where Freedman had appeared the previous month, holding up a copy of an alleged “slave contract” with the names blacked out, according to the Tuesday suit. TMZ is owned by Fox Corp., which shares a common owner with the New York Post.

While Freedman purportedly appeared on TMZ for a separate case about his reality TV-star clientele, he held up a copy of the redacted “slave contract” while on camera — “a clear threat to counterclaimant,” per Lanng’s camp, who have maintained that Lanng and his accuser, known in court papers as Jane Doe, were in a consensual relationship.

The day after the initial Sept. 4 text, Freedman messaged Lanng again, writing, “Christian, I don’t control media as you know but once filed cases take on lives of their own,” according to court papers. “Obviously, payment avoids the filing. Is that happening today? Bruce offered 10m filed by 8/15.

“Let me know if you want to avoid this being much more difficult as our papers are ready to go,” Freedman added, according to the screenshots.

Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman appeared on TMZ in August 2023. Though the segment was related to a separate one of his client’s cases, he still held up a copy of the redacted “slave contract” Lanng allegedly forced Doe to sign.

In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for Freedman provided a brief, written statement from the power lawyer.

“It’s not a surprise that the enforcer of a slave contract would try to play the victim,” Freedman said. “It’s nothing but further abuse and a desperate attempt to deflect from his own illegal conduct.”

The alleged shakedown took place just one month after banking giant HSBC announced that it made a $35 million investment into Tradeshift as part of $70 million in funding to form a joint venture.

Lanng’s countersuit against the LA lawyer comes after he had already agreed to pay Doe $10 million “despite his innocence” as part of a May 2022 settlement agreement that was reached “for the sake of trying to salvage the potential sale of Tradeshift,” according to the court documents.

This screenshot of a text exchange between Freedman and Lanng was included in the countersuit. In it, Freedman said Lanng was “throwing away” his future and creating a “lasting effect” on his ability to do business by not handing over another hefty chunk of money.

Tradeshift told The Post on Monday that over a year later, “on Sept. 1, 2023, Mr. Lanng was dismissed for gross misconduct on multiple grounds. He has also resigned from the Tradeshift Board.”

Lanng claims in his countersuit the shakedown began after he missed a deadline for an installment on the $10 million, out-of-court settlement with Doe.

In response, he alleges that Freedman’s Los Angeles-based law firm Freedman Taitelman + Cooley LLP “hired third parties to develop fake websites and Twitter accounts to fabricate accounts of misconduct by Lanng in early 2023.”

A spokesperson for Lanng claimed that one of those fake accounts operated on X with the handle @_ChristianLanng, tweeting cryptic posts such as, “To Christian and the entire Tradeshift board: I’m not going anywhere. None of us are. This is just the beginning.”

Freedman, pictured above, allegedly threatened former Tradeshift CEO Christian Laang with publicizing sex-abuse allegations against him on TMZ as part of a $10 million shakedown attempt, Laang alleges. Getty Images

The idea was “embarrassing and intimidating Lanng so that he would agree to pay even more money than the sum already paid,” per the countersuit.

Doe’s shocking lawsuit filed in December claimed the depraved “slave contract” required her to “always be sexually available for her master when he needs sex and to never refuse him sex even when not wearing the [day] collar,” according to an alleged copy of the contract filed with her suit.

“Whenever she sees her master in private for the first time, she is to kneel and ask if there is anything she can do for him,” the purported contract added of Doe, who was fired from Tradeshift in 2020 “during one of several rounds of layoffs Tradeshift has unfortunately had to undergo,” Lanng said late last year.

Doe, who worked as Lanng’s assistant at one point, was also supposed to keep a “diary” of his “subjugation and enslavement of her,” and had agreed to be beaten “with a cane if she did not write submissive entries,” according to her lawsuit.

Lanng’s suit also alleged that Freedman and Cooley created fake social media accounts, including this one, to intimidate Lanng.

In his countersuit, however, Lanng included an alleged entry in which Doe gushed about her relationship with Lanng.

“I am so obsessed and IN LOVE and in AWE and so bubbling wanting desiring aching for CHRISTIAN! … I am so much more confident I’m also very much his sex slave lol.”

Attorneys for Lanng argued that “It is unreasonable to draw the conclusion that, ‘I’m very much his sex slave lol’ was written at the behest of her ‘master,’” adding that Doe’s allegations don’t have “any merit at all.”

In his countersuit, Lanng claims that the “slave contract” was “merely a sexual prop downloaded from the internet” after Lanng and Doe’s relationship came to include “elements of BDSM,” and was “by no means intended to be enforcable,” especially in the workplace.

Lanng added in a statement to The Post that he filed a counterclaim in California court on Tuesday against Freedman, Cooley and Doe “for extortion, defamation, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Lanng’s countersuit also included this diary entry allegedly written by Doe, who claimed in her own filing that she was told to keep a “diary” of Lanng’s “subjugation and enslavement of her.”

He requested “no less than $40 million” in damages.

“As evidenced by the text messages in the filing, Mr. Freedman approached me while I was temporarily unrepresented by an attorney. His actions included ‘leveling threats,’ interfering with my ‘ability to obtain competent counsel by placing an arbitrary deadline on the extortionate demand,’ all while he ‘indicated that he was in communication with a major media outlet,’” Lanng added.

He also noted that Doe “was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.”

Per California records, Doe was found guilty of a petty theft misdemeanor in 2005 — years before allegedly becoming romantically involved with Lanng in 2014. She was sentenced to three years of probation, which she potentially violated, public records show.

Additional case files related to Doe’s misdemeanor have since been destroyed, Lanng’s rep told The Post.

Doe was hired to work for Lanng’s software company, Tradeshift, as his assistant. She later moved onto other roles and did not interact with Lanng before being fired in May 2020 during a round of layoffs, according to the countersuit.

In another example of how Freedman allegedly botched Doe’s filing, Lanng noted in a statement to The Post that Freedman “failed to redact” the name of one of Lanng’s former girlfriends who was included in Doe’s lawsuit.

In an affidavit obtained by The Post, Lanng’s ex-girlfriend stated that her “name was revealed in a complaint filed Dec. 7, 2023 without my consent or prior knowledge, through an unredacted termination letter that named me as an aggrieved party which I am not.”

The two were in a relationship through the spring and summer of 2023, according to the affidavit.

Freedman has faced similar legal pushback over alleged hardball tactics, including when MediaLink founder and chief Michael Kassan sued the Hollywood heavyweight lawyer for defamation in connection to his lawsuit against UTA, which Freedman was representing when he called Kassan a “pathological liar” in an interview with Deadline.

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