Fox News channel star Bill O'Reilly landed in hot water Saturday after news broke he was involved in five sexual harassment lawsuits spanning over the past 15 years.
According to a report by The New York Times, “The O'Reilly Factor” host and his network paid off the women, who “either worked for him or appeared on his show.”
The total settlement? A staggering $13 million.
The settlements were made in an effort to prevent the women from suing Fox News Network, which was already dealing with fallout from sexual assault allegations against former CEO Roger Ailes, according to The Chicago Tribune.
O'Reilly addressed the lawsuits in a statement Saturday, and claimed that he was a “target” for people looking to make money with threats to his reputation. He wrote:
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.
The surprising report left some wondering about the fate of Fox's hit show, “The O'Reilly Factor,” which has long been a ratings success for the network.
But according to The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by the same company as Fox News, the recent negative publicity has not affected his show.
O'Reilly's contract was renewed by the network, even though Fox News was aware of the impending New York Times report.
His contract was originally set to expire at the end of 2017.
No official details regarding the new “multi-million, multi-year deal” have been released.
Editor's note: This post was updated after publication to correct the amount paid out in settlements.