In the wake of the Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment scandal, Fox News quietly settled similar accusations against Bill O’Reilly by on-air-personality Juliet Huddy, NY Times reports.
O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with Huddy in 2011, leveraging control he had over her career. When she refused, he tried to hurt her career, with a Fox executive named Jack Abernethy retaliating against her, according a letter her lawyers wrote to Fox News. The Times says it was mailed the letter anonymously.
Huddy’s letter said O’Reilly had called her repeatedly, and that sometimes it sounded like he was masturbating. He asked her to his house on Long Island, tried to kiss her, took her to dinner and the theater, asked her to return a key to his hotel room, then appeared at the door in underwear.
In exchange for silence and no legal action, Huddy, was reportedly paid a sum in the high six figures. The company and Mr. O’Reilly’s lawyer said her allegations were false.
“The letter contains substantial falsehoods, which both men have vehemently denied,” Irena Briganti, a spokeswoman for Fox News, said in a statement.
Fredric S. Newman, O’Reilly’s lawyer, said, “There is absolutely no basis for any claim of sexual harassment against Bill O’Reilly by Juliet Huddy.”
Similar accusations have been made about O’Reilly before. In 2004, Andrea Mackris, a producer on his show sued him, saying he’d made unwanted sexual advances and lewd comments in a series of phone calls and dinner conversations. She claimed O’Reilly told her to buy a vibrator repeatedly, called her while she thought he was masturbating, and talked about sexual fantasies.
O’Reilly settled for millions of dollars, with no wrongdoing admitted.
One of the encounters Huddy had described in the letter:
“To shock and disgust, as Ms. Huddy was saying goodbye to Mr. O’Reilly, he quickly moved in and kissed her on the lips,” the letter said. “Ms. Huddy was so taken aback and repulsed that she instinctively recoiled and actually fell to the ground. Mr. O’Reilly, looking amused, did not even help Ms. Huddy up.”
Huddy continued socializing with O’Reilly because, “she felt compelled to comply with Mr. O’Reilly’s request, given that he had total control over her work assignment.”
Once she’d made it clear she wasn’t interested in him sexually, O’Reilly retaliated against her at work in a variety of ways, including nitpicking her work, complaining over minor errors, throwing her curveballs and not preparing her for segments, the letter says.
(image via CBS News screengrab)