A former anchorwoman for the Fox News Channel has reportedly settled a sexual harassment claim against network superstar Bill O’Reilly and Jack Abernethy, the newly appointed co-president of Fox News.
According to a report by LawNewz.com on Monday, three separate sources including a former Fox News executive with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed the settlement.
“We obtained a draft of the intent to sue letter which was sent or handed to Fox News and listed the allegations of sexual harassment against both men,” the report stated.
“While we weren’t able to confirm the exact amount of the settlement, our sources tell us the amount paid out was in the high six figures. Neither Abernethy, nor O’Reilly paid any money out personally and, we are told, Abernethy and O’Reilly strongly denied all of the charges made against them by Huddy from the start.”
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In July, through her lawyer, Huddy reportedly sent the notice several weeks after network chief Roger Ailes was ousted from Fox News amid allegations from other newswomen who accused Ailes of sexual harassment.
“The letter (from Huddy) contains substantial falsehoods and we won’t otherwise comment on this matter,” a spokesperson for Fox News told LawNewz.com.
Huddy joined Fox News in 1998 and previously was host on the weekend edition of “Fox & Friends,” and had regular segments on “The O’Reilly Factor” titled “Did You See That?” and “Mad as Hell.”
She is said to have claimed in her legal letter that her position on O’Reilly’s show and the Fox News Channel came to an abrupt end “in retaliation for rebuffing Mr. O’Reilly’s advances.”
The six-page notice from Huddy’s attorney contains certain lurid allegations against O’Reilly and also claims of harassment by newly installed Fox News Co-President Jack Abernethy from when he served as CEO of the Fox Television Stations. This sort of legal letter is usually sent prior to a public lawsuit being filed or as a threat to generate a settlement. In this case, Huddy never filed suit after a settlement agreement was apparently reached. A source close to the matter told us that Fox executives were aware of the allegations against Abernethy and believed them to be false, when he was given a multi-year deal to head up the network alongside Bill Shine.
In the letter, Huddy claimed that during the time she appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly propositioned her on multiple occasions including trying to kiss her when she visited his home near Manhasset, Long Island and making inappropriate phone calls to her. She also claimed there was an incident at a New York hotel after she went to “return a room key” to O’Reilly. In the letter, Huddy said when she refused to comply with O’Reilly’s advances, she was booted from the show despite having “one of the highest rated segments.” Upon leaving Fox News cable network, Huddy was then transferred to the Fox-owned New York affiliate, Fox 5 New York, where she was given a spot anchoring the 4:30 a.m. time slot, which she considered much less desirable.
Huddy also claimed she faced sexual harassment from Abernethy who “constantly called her at the office and asking her to come by his office.” Shortly after receiving the settlement, Huddy abruptly left Fox 5 in New York in September. The move came a day after Fox settled with Gretchen Carlson, for a reported $20 million.
Not everyone is on board with Huddy’s allegations, however.
“There was no sexual harassment,” one source familiar with the matter told LawNewz.com. “Any purported claim made by Ms. Huddy would be nothing more than opportunistic fabrication concocted to cash in on the legal settlement from Fox News.”
Huddy did express her support for Ailes when he left the network last July.
Follow Joe Kovacs on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews