According to a report, Fox News and some of its top hosts face new accusations of sexual misconduct in a lawsuit filed today by two women.
One woman accused Ed Henry, a host who was fired by Fox News earlier this month, of sexual assault as well as harassment, the report adds.
A second woman who frequently appeared as an on-air contributor accused Henry, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and others of sexual harassment.
She claims that they “dangled the prospect of a full-time job in exchange for suggested sexual favors,” the report says.
The suit was filed on behalf by Jennifer Eckhart and Cathy Areu in U.S. District Court.
Henry’s lawyer argued against the claims, saying: “The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship. Ed Henry looks forward to presenting actual facts and evidence, which will contradict the fictional accounts contained in the complaint. That evidence includes graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications that Ms. Eckhart sent to Mr. Henry.”
The lawsuit reads: “In reality, Fox News knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017. At that time, when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment, multiple women came forward to complain that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct towards them.”
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The suit continues: “Upon information and belief, this was known to Fox News’ Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Kevin Lord (“Mr. Lord”), as well as Fox News President and Executive Editor, Jay Wallace (“Mr. Wallace”), and Fox Business Network President, Lauren Petterson (“Ms. Petterson”).”
Fox News responded in a statement: “Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as Fox News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.”
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According to the suit, Eckhart was a 24-year-old production assistant at the network in 2014 when Henry reached out to her via Twitter and began flirtatious interactions. After agreeing to meet him for a drink at the New York Marriott Marquis, she said that Henry “out of nowhere, began forcefully kissing Ms. Eckhart and ripped off her clothes. Ultimately, Ms. Eckhart, fearing that her career would be over if she refused Mr. Henry, relented and had sexual intercourse with him.”
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In November 2015, Eckhart said that Henry sexually assaulted again her inside the Guest Office of Fox News’ Manhattan headquarters building. Finally, the suit said that Henry again raped in a Manhattan hotel room in 2017 after restraining her with handcuffs behind her back and taking naked photos of her without her consent.
Throughout this time, Eckhart said that she feared career retaliation from Henry, whom she said sent her threatening emails and text messages, including, “F— you and your safe word. You will know when I am done” and “#obey or #discipline.”
According to the suit, Fox News fired Henry on July 1 less than a week after learning of Eckhart and Areu’s accusations and realizing “that it was on the precipice of a public relations nightmare.”
Areu, a frequent Fox News guest who aspired to a full-time role, also accused Henry and other top Fox News personalities of sexual harassment. According to the suit, Henry texted Areu to ask if she was “avail for anchor interview” immediately after sending her a video titled “Fastest Interview … candidate selected in 3 seconds” in which the interviewee exposes her vagina to get the job from a male interviewer.
In 2018, according to the suit, Hannity humiliated Areu in front of the crew by placing $100 in cash on his set desk and asking any man present to take Areu out on a date at a nearby steakhouse. “Ms. Areu was completely mortified and made clear that she was incredibly uncomfortable with Mr. Hannity’s misogynistic behavior,” the lawsuit said, adding that the host seemed to retaliate against Areu because she did not “play along.” After this incident, the suit said, she was “hardly ever, if ever at all, invited back to appear on ‘Hannity.’”
Meanwhile, Areu — who said she appeared on Carlson’s primetime show “at least” 17 times in 2018 — said that after taping a segment with the Fox News host in late 2018, she was told that Carlson began “probing to see whether Ms. Areu was interested in a sexual relationship.”
“Mr. Carlson, hardly making any effort to hide his intentions, began telling Ms. Areu that he would be alone in New York City that night, and specifically said that he would be staying alone in his hotel room without any wife or kids,” the lawsuit said. “Ms. Areu awkwardly sidestepped Mr. Carlson’s advances and declined to spend the night at his hotel. Mr. Carlson promptly retaliated against Ms. Areu, who was featured on his show only three times in 2019 and has not appeared once in 2020.”