Ever since the very public descent of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, the network has been the target of a number of lawsuits.
In the months that followed, complaints against other employees bubbled to the surface.
Allegations of racist comments on the part of Fox comptroller Judy Slater were investigated — and she was terminated — but two of her accusers filed suit against Fox anyway, saying that the network knew Slater was a problem but allowed her to continue working there.
On April 1, the New York Times reported that long time Fox News primetime host Bill O'Reilly had also been named as a defendant in five settlements alleging harassment and inappropriate behavior — and two of those were settled after Roger Ailes left Fox.
From the New York Times:
The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show. They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews.
The reporting suggests a pattern: As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr. O’Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally. He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall.
The New York Times reported that two of the settlements had been previously made public, but three had not — and that all but one involved sexual harassment. That one alleged that O'Reilly had verbally abused her in front of colleagues.
In addition to noting accusations from former regular guest Wendy Walsh, the New York Times reported that Andrea Tantaros had named O'Reilly in her 2016 suit against Ailes.
O'Reilly claims that none of the suits have merit — and thus far, Fox has stood by him. O'Reilly gave a public statement via his website on April 1:
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I'm vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I'm a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.
According to Variety, O'Reilly's attorney Fredric S. Newman gave an additional statement to the New York Times: “We are now seriously considering legal action to defend Mr. O’Reilly’s reputation.”