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A former Fox News host who accused Bill O’Reilly and a network executive of sexual harassment quietly received a six-figure settlement from the company after the ouster of former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, according to The New York Times and Lawnewz.com.
Juliet Huddy, who hosted “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet” before it was canceled in 2009, was a frequent guest on “The O’Reilly Factor.” She described a pattern of harassment beginning in 2011 that ended in O’Reilly sabotaging her career after she rejected his advances, according to a letter written by her lawyers that was obtained by The Times and Lawnewz.com.
This isn’t the first time O’Reilly has been accused of sexual harassment. Andrea Mackris, who was a producer on his show, sued him in 2004, describing instances of harassment similar to those Huddy alleged.
Both women said they received phone calls from O’Reilly that sounded like he was masturbating, according to The Times.
Huddy also accused Jack Abernethy, who was recently appointed copresident of Fox News, of sexual harassment. Both Abernethy and O’Reilly strongly denied the allegations, according to the reports.
According to the reports, the letter says O’Reilly took Huddy out to dinner and the theater, invited her to his house, tried to kiss her, and made inappropriate phone calls. He also invited her to his hotel room on one occasion, then appeared in his boxers when she went to return the room key he gave her after saying she wasn’t interested in a sexual relationship with him, according to the reported letter.
Last year, Huddy’s lawyers sent the letter containing the allegations to Fox, which settled with Huddy in September before she could sue, according to the reports.
The letter said that when Huddy visited O’Reilly’s home he kissed her on the lips, according to the reports.
“Ms. Huddy was so taken aback and repulsed that she instinctively recoiled and actually fell to the ground,” the letter said, according to The Times. “Mr. O’Reilly, looking amused, did not even help Ms. Huddy up.”
She went to dinner and the theater with O’Reilly the next week, which is when the alleged incident at the hotel happened, according to the reported letter. Huddy said she “felt compelled to comply with Mr. O’Reilly’s request, given that he had total control over her work assignment,” the letter said, according to The Times.
When Huddy made clear she did not want a sexual relationship with O’Reilly, he “began to retaliate against her both on and off air,” according to the reported letter. The letter said O’Reilly “nitpicked her work,” berated her for “minor mistakes,” and stopped preparing her for segments on his show, according to The Times.
Huddy told Fox News employees at the time that she didn’t complain because she feared retaliation, according to The Times.
Huddy moved from Fox News to a local New York affiliate, then left that job in September after she received the settlement, according to Lawnewz.com.
A Fox News spokeswoman told Business Insider in a statement that “the letter contains substantial falsehoods, which both men have vehemently denied.”
A person briefed on the situation additionally said the company was aware of Huddy’s allegations when they signed Abernethy to a new multi-year deal in September 2016.