Company executives at Fox News struck a secret agreement to settle accusations of sexual harassment against the network’s star Bill O’Reilly just weeks after Roger Ailes was ousted as network chairman, The New York Times reports.
The report cites documents indicating that the execs made the deal with Juliet Huddy, a longtime on-air personality.
Huddy “had said that Mr. O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011, at a time he exerted significant influence over her career,” The Times reports. “When she rebuffed his advances, he tried 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.”
“The letter includes allegations that Mr. O’Reilly had called Ms. Huddy repeatedly and that it sometimes sounded like he was masturbating,” the report adds. “He invited her to his house on Long Island, tried to kiss her, took her to dinner and the theater, and after asking her to return a key to his hotel room, appeared at the door in his boxer shorts, according to the letter.”
The report cites sources who were briefed on the agreement saying that in exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, Huddy was paid a sum in the high six figures.
“The agreement was between Ms. Huddy and 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News,” The Times notes, adding: “The company and Mr. O’Reilly’s lawyer said her allegations were false.”
The report also notes: “Details about the allegations and the agreement between Ms. Huddy and 21st Century Fox are based on interviews with current and former Fox News employees, the letter written by her lawyers to the company, and three pages of a draft of the settlement agreement.”
To read an account of another sexual harassment suit involving O’Reilly–from an earlier time during his tenure at Fox News, please click here (then you’ll have to scroll down pretty far to find it).