UPDATED 7/21, 11:25 p.m. ET: In a Tuesday interview with CBS This Morning, Jennifer Eckhart said she was "paralyzed with fear" working at Fox News.
"I felt that he had the power to derail me, to destroy me, to ruin my career. And, I just, I didn't have a voice until now," she said Tuesday.
"I think it's safe to say that I was paralyzed by fear when I was working there," she added. "I don't know how you could continue to cultivate and foster an environment that rewards sexual predators consistently year after year."
A spokesperson for FOX News relayed to Complex that "there were not sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at FOX News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020."
See original story below.
On Monday a lawsuit was filed in New York federal court accusing Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity of sexual harassment, in addition to accusing now former anchor Ed Henry of sexual assault. Other employees named as plaintiffs in the suit include Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell.
Henry was fired earlier this month after an investigation by the network was made into sexual misconduct allegations against him. The Hollywood Reporter notes that, as you may have assumed, those accusations are related to the same ones contained in this lawsuit.
He has denied those allegations.
The new 39-page complaint came complete with a "trigger warning" at the top, and contains a number of allegations against the men listed above, in addition to making charges against the network. It was filed on behalf of a former associate producer of the Fox Business Network, Jennifer Eckhart, as well as former on-screen regular Cathy Areu.
The most serious charge in the suit pertains to an allegation made by Eckhart, in which she says that she was raped by now-ex-White House chief correspondent Ed Henry.
"On July 1, 2020, Fox News disclosed to the public that it had terminated Mr. Henry based on the findings of an internal investigation, and purported to take credit for acting appropriately," the complaint reads. "However, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Fox News knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017. At that time, when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment, multiple women came forward to complain that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct towards them."
As a result of this allegation Fox News now faces a sex trafficking claim, according to THR.
According to the Eckhart, this rape occurred in a hotel room in which the two met for drinks back in 2017.
A lawyer for Henry responded to the allegations by saying that "The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship."
The other co-plaintiff, Cathy Areu, contends that Fox News was a hostile workplace for women to work at. Areu also called out Henry, who she said sent her a “myriad [of] wildly inappropriate, disturbing and sadistic sexual images and videos and repeatedly suggested that he would help her obtain an anchor position with Fox News if she engaged in sexual acts with him.”
Details of both the alleged rape and the Henry messages can be found in the full complaint.
Areu also named other Fox News talent, including Sean Hannity (who she says threw $100 onto a desk on his set while calling for the men in the vicinity to take her out for drinks), Tucker Carlson (who she says tried to feel her out to see if she wanted a sexual relationship), and Howard Kurtz (who she accuses of inviting her to a hotel room). After spurning their advances she says she stopped getting invites to be on their shows.
Worth pointing out is that the plaintiffs are being represented by the same law firm that settled claims against Fox News back in 2018. Most of those lawsuits were made in response to conduct by late founder Roger Ailes.
As for this most recent suit, Fox has reacted by suggesting that the two plaintiffs should pursue legal action against Henry directly.
"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 said in a statement.
"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.”