Alleges sexual assault by Henry
A joint sexual harassment/assault lawsuit has been filed against Fox News and current and former employees–the former employee being Ed Henry–by Fox News guest Cathy Areu and former associate producer for Fox Business Network Jennifer Eckhart, both seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Fox says Areu’s allegations are without merit and Henry’s attorney says the accusations against him are fiction.
“It is widely documented in the public record that Fox News has not only cultivated and fostered sexual harassment and misconduct, but has consistently accepted and rewarded it. Nevertheless, Fox News would have the public believe that it is a different place from the Fox News that was run by former disgraced Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes,” the suit says. “Unfortunately, it is actually worse.”
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that former co-anchor of America’s Newsroom Ed Henry “groomed, psychologically manipulated and coerced Ms. Eckhart into having a sexual relationship with him, and that, when she would not comply voluntarily, he sexually assaulted her on office property and raped her at a hotel where Fox News frequently lodged its visiting
employees, thereby facilitating, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Mr. Henry’s conduct.”
Henry was fired from Fox News June 25 over the Eckhart complaint, at the time saying it was sexual misconduct alleged by a former employee and investigated by the company.
Eckhart alleges that Fox knew Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct since 2017 and did not terminate him, only firing him when it realized it “was on the precipice of a public relations nightmare and wanted to get out ahead of this suit and be able to claim that it had done the right thing. It had not.”
Areu said Henry sent her inappropriate sexual messages and images, but also alleged sexual harassment by Fox on-air talent Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell.
In a statement, Fox pushed back hard on the allegations against the last four, but essentially signaled Henry was on his own.
“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,” said a Fox News spokesperson. “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.”
Henry said he will fight the allegations “with every fiber of my being,” and tweeted this statement from his attorney, Cathy Foti: “The Me Too movement has helped bring to light a number of injustices in our society, and everyone that has suffered deserves to be heard. 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. Echkart sent to Mr. Henry. ”