Fox set­tled sex­ual harass­ment claim vs. O’Reilly

Com­plaint says he tried to de­rail ca­reer of Juliet Huddy

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Roger Yu @ByRogerYu

Ex­ec­u­tives at 21st Cen­tury Fox, the par­ent com­pany of Fox News, set­tled a sex­ual harass­ment charge brought by an em­ployee against its prime-time star Bill O’Reilly, ac­cord­ing to a per­son briefed on the mat­ter.

The charge was brought by Juliet Huddy, a Fox broad­caster who joined the com­pany in the late 1990s, the per­son con­firmed, speak­ing anony­mously due to the con­fi­den­tial na­ture of the agree­ment.

The set­tle­ment, first re­ported by Lawnewz.com and con­firmed by The New York Times, was fi­nal­ized sev­eral weeks af­ter for­mer Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was ousted last July fol­low­ing a sex­ual harass­ment law­suit filed by an­other Fox broad­caster, Gretchen Carl­son.

Huddy agreed to re­frain from su­ing the net­work and was paid a sum in “the high six fig­ures,” ac­cord­ing to Lawnewz and the Times.

O’Reilly pur­sued a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Huddy in 2011, but when she re­buffed his un­wanted sex­ual ad­vances, he tried to de­rail her ca­reer, the Times re­ported, cit­ing a let­ter Huddy’s lawyers sent to Fox News. The Times said a copy of the let­ter was anony­mously mailed to its of­fices in De­cem­ber.

Jack Aber­nethy, a long­time Fox ex­ec­u­tive who was named co­pres­i­dent of Fox News af­ter Ailes left, was also ac­cused by Huddy of re­tal­i­at­ing against her af­ter she re­buffed O’Reilly’s ad­vances, the re­port said.

Fox News couldn’t im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment. But Irena Bri­g­anti, a spokes­woman for Fox News, is­sued a state­ment to the Times, say­ing “the let­ter con­tains sub­stan­tial false­hoods, which both men have ve­he­mently de­nied.”

Jeanne Chris­tensen, an at­tor- ney at law firm Wig­dor LLP who is rep­re­sent­ing Huddy, de­clined to com­ment.

Huddy’s com­plaint but­tresses Carl­son and sev­eral of her col­leagues’ claims that top Fox News ex­ec­u­tives tol­er­ated its cul­ture of sex­ual harass­ment dur­ing Ailes’ reign. Ailes has de­nied Carl­son’s charges.

But in Septem­ber, 21st Cen­tury Fox paid Carl­son $20 mil­lion to set­tle her law­suit and is­sued a force­ful apol­ogy, say­ing she “was not treated with the re­spect and dig­nity that she and all of our col­leagues de­serve.”

In 2004, O’Reilly set­tled a sex­ual harass­ment law­suit brought by a for­mer Fox pro­ducer, An­drea Mack­ris.

STAN GODLEWSKI, FOR USA TO­DAY

Fox News com­men­ta­tor Bill O’Reilly has de­nied the claim.

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