Fox News Reportedly Settled Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Bill O’Reilly
This story has been updated to reflect response from Jeanne M. Christensen, Juliet Huddy’s lawyer, and Fox News.
Just weeks after former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes’s July 2016 resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal, 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, reportedly settled sexual harassment allegations against TV personality Bill O’Reilly, new documents show.
The company secretly struck an agreement with O’Reilly, who is the host of the network’s The O’Reilly Factor, after Fox’s Juliet Huddy accused him of pursuing a sexual relationship with her in 2011. Although Huddy rejected his advances, O’Reilly reportedly attempted “to derail her career,” according to a draft of a letter from her lawyers to Fox News that was obtained by the New York Times.
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The Times reports that the letter includes allegations that O’Reilly repeatedly called Huddy, and although those calls were often about work, they were sometimes “highly inappropriate and sexual,” the letter says, according to the Times.
O’Reilly also reportedly invited Huddy to his home on Long Island, where he tried to kiss her, and later took her to dinner and a Broadway show, where he “moved close to Huddy in a way that made her feel uncomfortable,” the Times reports. During the performance, O’Reilly allegedly tried to hold her hand, but Huddy pulled it away. Before leaving, he dropped a key to the room at a Midtown Manhattan hotel he was staying at into her lap, telling her to meet him there after the play was over.
When Huddy appeared at O’Reilly’s hotel door to return the key, he was reportedly only wearing boxer shorts, according to the letter obtained by the Times.
After that encounter, the document states that Huddy was “very embarrassed, handed O’Reilly his key, and quickly left,” according to the Times, and that “his obsession with her only escalated” in the months following the show.
But in exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, Huddy was allegedly paid in a sum “in the high six figures,” the Times reports. The agreement was between Huddy and 21st Century Fox (FOX), and both the company and O’Reilly’s lawyer said her allegations were false, according to the Times.
Consequences for breaking the supposed confidentiality agreement are steep: Either side could face $500,000 per infringement, according to the letter.
The Times reports that representatives for Fox News and O’Reilly dismissed the allegations. In a prepared statement to Fortune, a spokesperson for Fox News said, “Juliet Huddy’s letter of intent to sue contained substantial falsehoods which were vehemently denied by Bill O’Reilly.”
Jeanne M. Christensen, a lawyer for Huddy at Wigdor L.L.P., declined to comment when contacted by Fortune.