Fox Information, former anchor Henry should face ex-producer’s sexual misconduct lawsuit

NEW YORK, Sept. 9 (Reuters) – Fox News and former presenter Ed Henry are faced with a lawsuit alleging Henry of promising career advancement to force an employee into a sometimes violent sexual relationship, including rape, and the network is accused of facilitating a hostile work environment. A US judge ruled Thursday.

Manhattan District Judge Ronnie Abrams said former producer Jennifer Eckhart could try to show Henry sex trafficking and “shame victims” by allegedly posting nude photos of Eckhart in the court record.

Abrams said Eckhart could also try to prove that Fox News knew, or should have known, of Henry’s harassing behavior, but not in connection with alleged sex trafficking or the photos.

Regardless, Abrams dismissed former on-air guest Cathy Areu’s lawsuit accusing Henry and fellow Fox Anchors Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Howard Kurtz of exposing them to sexual harassment and hostile environments, including the Demands that she get romantically involved with them and accept their “misogynistic behavior”. “

Abrams said Areu could not make some claims because she was not an employee and did not show that the presenters were punishing her for defying her progress by cutting her airtime and affecting her career.

Henry’s attorney Catherine Foti said the Eckhart decision undermined her client’s “legitimate efforts to defend himself” against allegations he believed would prove “baseless”.

Fox News said it would defend itself against Eckhart’s “baseless” allegations against the network, saying it “took harassment allegations seriously and acted appropriately.”

Both lawsuits reiterated previous allegations of sexual misconduct that led to the departure of Fox News founder Roger Ailes and anchor Bill O’Reilly.

Fox News fired Henry in July 2020 after learning of Eckhart’s allegations, including an alleged rape in a Manhattan hotel room in February 2017.

In a judicial file, Henry said Eckhart had “voluntarily and enthusiastically” participated in their “fully amicable” relationship.

Eckhart said Fox News fired her in June 2020 after complaining about the work environment.

Michael Willemin, an attorney for Eckhart, said she was looking forward to a trial.

Areu’s attorney James Vagnini said his client was disappointed and would consider changing their complaint.

The cases, both on the same file, are Eckhart v Fox News Network LLC et al. and Areu v Fox News Network LLC et al., US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-05593.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman

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