Fox News quietly settled sexual-harassment allegations lodged by a former network host against Bill O’Reilly and the network’s co-president, according to published reports.
Juliet Huddy, who appeared on the network from 1998 to 2012, reportedly settled for an amount in the high six figures in September, the website LawNewz.com and the New York Times said. Huddy had appeared semi-regularly on O’Reilly’s top-rated show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” for several years but said her career was derailed after she rebuffed advances by both men.
The allegations were settled several weeks after Fox News chairman and founder Roger Ailes was pushed out by parent company 21st Century Fox amid claims of widespread sexual harassment during his 20-year tenure. Ailes’s ouster was set in motion by a sexual-harassment suit filed by former host Gretchen Carlson, which Fox reportedly settled for $20 million.
Both publications said they obtained a draft of an intent-to-sue letter sent by Huddy’s attorneys to Fox News last year that contained lurid allegations about O’Reilly’s relationship with Huddy. It included details of unwanted propositions and harassing phone calls, during some of which O’Reilly apparently was masturbating, according to the letter.
It further claimed that Jack Abernethy, who was named co-president of Fox News after Ailes was ousted from the network, had harassed Huddy and harmed her TV career while he was the head of the Fox TV station group.
“Juliet Huddy’s letter of intent to sue contained substantial falsehoods which both men vehemently denied,” Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti said in an email.
Huddy also alleged that O’Reilly kissed her against her will during a tour of his home on Long Island and on one occasion lured her to his hotel room in New York and answered the door wearing only boxer shorts.
The letter said she rejected O’Reilly’s demands for a personal relationship and was booted from his show as a result.
Mackris, who received a multimillion-dollar payment, also claimed that O’Reilly made unwanted advances and engaged in sexually explicit phone conversations with her, allegedly while he was masturbating.
Fox was aware of Huddy’s allegations when it named Abernethy and senior executive vice president Bill Shine to be co-presidents in August, according to people briefed on the matter.
Huddy’s father, John Huddy, was a longtime colleague of Ailes’s, serving as a consultant to the network. Her brother, also named John, is a Middle East correspondent for Fox News.
Juliet Huddy had a regular segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” called “Did You See That?” and then another called “Mad as Hell,” where she would appear on set with O’Reilly. She left Fox News in 2012, transferring to the New York Fox broadcast station, WNYW. She left that station in September, saying she planned to start a website covering the music industry.
Huddy and 21st Century Fox agreed to settle Huddy’s claims with an agreement that binds all parties to confidentiality, the news reports said.