Two women who had appeared frequently on Fox News are suing the cable news network over accusations that some of their most popular hosts sexually harassed them.
Cathy Areu and Jennifer Eckhart filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, journalist Howard Kurtz, contributor Gianno Caldwell and Ed Henry of sexual misconduct, including rape. Eckhart worked as a producer on Fox Business, while Areu was a frequent guest and technically met the definition of a part-time employee.
Ed Henry had already been fired from the network on July 1 over sexual misconduct claims.
Eckhart accused Henry in the lawsuit of having “preyed upon, manipulated and groomed [her] starting at the young age of 24, by exerting his abuse of power over her and her career.”
She also claimed in the lawsuit that Henry violently raped her, left her bloodied and bruised, and took naked photographs of her in order to blackmail her later.
The lawsuit accused Fox News of not taking action against Henry despite knowing about the allegations, until Eckhart retained legal counsel in relation to her claims.
“My decision to speak out was not an easy one, but I refuse to let fear of retaliation, victim shaming and further attacks intimidate me into remaining silent,” said Eckhart in a statement.
— Jennifer Eckhart (@Jennifer Eckhart)1595278389.0
“I am hopeful that my decision to file this action will result in positive change for women at Fox, and for all victims in the workplace,” she added, “and I am honored that other women have come forward since my decision to do so.”
Areu claimed in the lawsuit that Henry also harassed her by sending her sexually explicit messages.
Areu claimed that Hannity offered any man in the studio $100 to take her out on a date. She accused Carlson of attempting to get her to visit him in his hotel room in 2018, and also claimed that Kurtz made a similar attempt in 2019. She also accused Caldwell of trying to begin a romantic relationship with her despite numerous denials.
“Like Ms. Eckhart, I too was fearful to come forward,” she said. “However, I simply could not stay silent given the tremendous harm that Mr. Henry and others at Fox News have caused for women affiliated with the company. I chose to file this complaint because no woman should have to suffer the conduct to which I was subjected, much less the egregious conduct suffered by Ms. Eckhart.”
Fox News responds
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Fox News said that their third party investigation found Areu’s claims to be false.
“Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit.”
The network went on to address the accusations against Henry.
“We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.”
Ed Henry responds
Henry’s attorney, Catherine Foti, released a statement denying the accusations made by Eckhart and claimed that the evidence would contradict her claims.
“The Me Too movement has helped to bring to light a number of injustices in our society, and everyone that has suffered deserves to be heard,” Foti said. “This is not one of those cases. The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship. Ed Henry looks forward to presenting actual facts and evidence, which will contradict the fictional accounts contained in the complaint. That evidence includes graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications that Ms. Eckhart sent to Mr. Henry.”
Here’s more about the accusations in the lawsuit:
Fox News anchors and former reporter accused of sexual misconduct