17:22 GMT06 March 2021
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    Plaintiffs Jennifer Eckhart and Cathy Areu have filed a lawsuit against the Fox News Network as well as several hosts, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and the recently fired Ed Henry, accusing the network and anchors of creating and supporting an environment of sexual harassment and misconduct.

    According to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the Southern District of New York, the outlet 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. Unfortunately, it is actually worse,” the lawsuit adds. Ailes resigned from Fox News in July of 2016 after he was accused of sexual assault by 23 women.

    Henry, the 48-year-old former co-anchor of Fox News’ mid-morning show “America’s Newsroom,” was fired from the network on July 1 after sexual assault allegations against him surfaced. 

    The Fox News memo on July 1 announcing Henry’s firing reads: "On Thursday, June 25, we received a complaint about Ed Henry from a former employee's attorney involving willful sexual misconduct in the workplace years ago. We immediately retained an outside law firm (which has never represented Fox News in investigations or litigation) to independently investigate the claims. Ed was suspended the same day and removed from his on-air responsibilities pending investigation.” 

    The statement does not identify the former Fox News employee who made the complaint.

    In the newly-filed lawsuit, Eckhart’s counsel accuses Henry of having “preyed upon, manipulated and groomed Ms. Eckhart starting at the young age of 24, by exerting his abuse of power over her and her career.” 

    According to the lawsuit, Henry “not only leveraged this imbalance of power for control over his victim, Ms. Eckhart, but asked her to be his ‘sex slave’ and his ‘little whore,’ and threatened punishment and retaliation if Ms. Eckhart did not comply with his sexual demands.” 

    Although Eckhart’s legal counsel explained in detail to the Fox News Channel that she was “violently raped while helpless” by Henry, the channel did not immediately fire Henry, even though it was aware that he had participated in sexual misconduct as far back as 2017, the lawsuit states. 

    According to the filing, Henry was only terminated from the channel on July 1 “because Fox News realized that 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.”

    In the lawsuit, Areu also alleges she was sexually harassed by Henry, who she says sent her “a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and messages.”

    Areu also accuses Hannity, the network’s star anchor, of offering $100 to staffers to take her on a date. 

    “On that day, Mr. Hannity, on set and in front of the entire studio crew – and completely unsolicited – threw $100 on the set desk. He then began calling out to the men in the room and demanding that someone take Ms. Areu out on a date for drinks at Del Friscos,” the suit states.

    Areu also accuses Kurtz, the host of Fox News' “Media Buzz” program, of making sexual advances toward her. She further accuses Gianno Caldwell, a Fox News political analyst based in Miami, Florida, of telling her she would need to date him if she wanted him to connect her to his friend, Ann Coulter, a media pundit who frequently appears on Fox News. 

    “Mr. Caldwell, who knew that Ms. Areu would have loved the opportunity to meet and work with Ms. Coulter, used this fact to attempt to coerce Ms. Areu into dating him,” the suit reads.

    Carlson is also accused of sexual misconduct by Areu, who alleged that the anchor approached her in December 2018 and probed to see whether she would be interested in a sexual relationship with him. 

    “Hardly making any effort to hide his intentions, [Carlson] began telling Ms. Areu that he would be alone in New York City that night, and specifically said that he would be staying alone in his hotel room without any wife or kids,” the lawsuit details. 

    According to Areu, Carlson retaliated against her after she declined his advances, only allowing her to be featured on his show three times in 2019 and not once in 2020.

    Fox News has not yet commented on the lawsuit.

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