Bill O’ Reilly and his longtime employer Fox News have kept their legal handlings quiet until now. In a report by The New York Times, the company along with Reilly, have paid up to $13 million to former colleagues accusing Reilly of sexual and verbal harassment.
The report, released Saturday (April 1) presents five settlements towards the 67-year-old in exchange for their silence. Two of the payouts were public knowledge; former FOX News producer Andrea Mackris reached a $9 million settlement for sexual assault in 2004 while former host Juliet Huddy settled for $1.6 million last year. The latter along with another case happened in the midst of the network’s scandal around CEO Roger Ailes, who was accused of the same behavior by hosts like Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson. Some of the cases included accusations of “verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating.”
Throughout most of the cases, O’Reilly maintained his innocence while reportedly trashing his accusers. Mackris faced public scrutiny after tabloids published “unflattering” stories about her during the time her case against O’Reilly was open. Private investigator Bo Dietl was hired to find information that painted Makris “as a promiscuous woman, deeply in debt, who was trying to shake down Mr. O’Reilly,” the report says.
O’ Reilly still has the support of 21st Century Fox, who provided The Times with a statement about the settlements. The company found out about a few of the cases while investigating Roger Ailes.
“21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously,” the statement said. “Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O’Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O’Reilly. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Mr. O’Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News.”
O’Reilly also provided a statement, leaning on his tenure with the network. He also didn’t deny the allegations.
“Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
Sources have also disclosed that more harassment and discrimination suits will be made public in the coming weeks.
Read the full report here.