Fox settled sexual harassment claim vs. O’Reilly
Complaint says he tried to derail career of Juliet Huddy
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.
Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has denied the claim.