Juliet Huddy left Fox News in September after being at the network since 1998. Months later, it has emerged that she reached a settlement with the network over claims of sexual harassment from Bill O’Reilly, the network’s most popular host.
Huddy, who is Roger Ailes’ goddaughter, also claimed that she was sexually harassed by Jack Abernethy, who was named co-President after Ailes was ousted.
LawNewz first reported on the settlement, which came before the 47-year-old Huddy ever filed a public lawsuit. The site reports that it obtained the draft to a letter of intent to sue, which included a list of allegations against O’Reilly and Abernethy. A Fox News spokesperson told LawNewz that the allegations in the letter are false.
A source told LawNewz that the settlement was in the high six figures. Huddy’s lawyer, Jeanne M. Chistensen of Wigdor LLP, would not comment on the situation to the New York Times.
The letter was sent in August, after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. According to the Times, the settlement was reached on September 5, around the same time Fox News settled Carlson’s lawsuit. Andrea Tantaros filed a similar lawsuit against Fox News in August, but the two sides have not reached a settlement in that case.
New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports that Fox News has settled sexual harassment complaints with at least four women since Ailes left.
Here’s a look at Huddy’s allegations and her career.
1. Huddy Claimed O’Reilly Invited Her to His Long Island Home & A Hotel Room, Where He Answered the Door in His Boxer Shorts
Huddy joined Fox News in March 1998 and was based in Miami. She rose the ranks to become a co-host for Fox & Friends Weekend. In 2010, she began working on The O’Reilly Factor, getting her own segment called “Did You See That?” After she was replaced on that segment in 2013, she had another one called “Mad as Hell.” That one lasted only briefly. According to the New York Times, the letter notes that she feared retaliation, which is why she didn’t complain.
The sexual harassment from O’Reilly began in January 2011, according to the letter. He invited her to his Manhasset, Long Island home for lunch. After the meal, he gave her a tour of his house and it ended with him trying to kiss her on the lips.
“To shock and disgust, as Ms. Huddy was saying goodbye to Mr. O’Reilly, he quickly moved in and kissed her on the lips,” the letter reads, according to the Times. “Ms. Huddy was so taken aback and repulsed that she instinctively recoiled and actually fell to the ground. Mr. O’Reilly, looking amused, did not even help Ms. Huddy up.”
Still, a week later, she accepted his invitation to a Broadway show and dinner. She knew she didn’t want a romantic relationship with him, but she feared for her job, the letter notes.
In the letter, Huddy claims that O’Reilly dropped a hotel room key in her lap and told her to meet him there after the show. When the show ended, she wanted to meet him in the lobby, but he refused. Eventually, she decided to go up and was met by O’Reilly at his hotel room door, only wearing boxer shorts.
Huddy claims that O’Reilly would continuously call her at all hours of the day, even when he was on a break. According to the letter, his comments were “highly inappropriate and sexual.” Sometimes, it sounded like O’Reilly was masturbating, the letter claims.
As Huddy continued to reject him, he “nitpicked her work” and would “berate” her for small mistakes, the letter reads. “Ms. Huddy’s rejection of Mr. O’Reilly apparently did not sit well with him, as he began to retaliate against her both on and off air,” according to the letter.
Bill O'Reilly, the former Fox News commentator, earned millions each year from the network just by telling people what he thinks.Click here to read more
2. Fox News Knew of the Allegations Against Abernethy When He Was Promoted to Co-President & He Said They are False
Huddy accused Abernethy of “trashing her” after she refused to have a personal relationship with him, according to the letter. At the time, he was CEO of Fox Television Stations.
A source told LawNez that Fox News executives knew about Huddy’s allegations. However, he was still promoted to co-President alongside Bill Shine and told executives that the allegations were false.
Huddy has not commented on the case because of a confidentiality agreement with Fox, the New York Times notes. She agreed to not “disparage, malign or defame” O’Reilly, Abernethy and the network. They agreed not to “disparage, malign or defame” Huddy. If they break the agreement, they could be fined $500,000, according to the Times.
“There was no sexual harassment. Any purported claim made by Ms. Huddy would be nothing more than opportunistic fabrication concocted to cash in on the legal settlement from Fox News,” a source told LawNewz.
“The letter contains substantial falsehoods, which both men have vehemently denied,” Irena Briganti, a spokeswoman for Fox News, told the Times.
This isn’t the first time O’Reilly has been the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Back in 2004, Andrea Mackris sued O’Reilly for sexual harassment, claiming that he made sexual advances and explicit phone calls to her, according to documents obtained by The Smoking Gun at the time. As The Washington Post reported at the time, the two reached a settlement in October 2004 and both sides said there was no wrongdoing by either party.
3. Huddy Is Roger Ailes’ Goddaughter & Thanked Him for ‘Being a Wonderful Boss & Mentor’ After He Was Ousted From Fox
When Roger Ailes was ousted from Fox News, Huddy thanked him for being a great mentor. “Thank you, Roger Ailes for being a wonderful boss and mentor. I will always appreciate what you’ve done for me. Again, THANK YOU,” she wrote on Twitter.
Huddy is Ailes’ goddaughter. Her father is John Huddy Sr., who also left Fox News as a consultant in July. According to CNNMoney, John Huddy Sr.’s Facebook page listed him as an “executive consultant” at the network since 2000 and helped produce programs.
Huddy’s brother is John Huddy, who remains at Fox News as a correspondent based in Jerusalem. He’s been at the network since 2014.
Read the full sexual harassment complaint filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson versus Fox News CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes.Click here to read more
4. She Left Fox For Good in September 2016 & Didn’t Mention the Allegations at All
Huddy’s last job at Fox was at WNYW as co-anchor for its Good Day show. As Mediate notes, her bio was quickly pulled from the Fox News site and she initially dropped all mentions of Fox News from her Twitter bio. She has since changed iit to note that she is a “FOX vet.”
Huddy didn’t make any mention of the allegations she made against O’Reilly when she left, likely because of the confidentiality agreement. She did share a statement on Twitter, announcing her departure.
“There past few years have been, in many ways, the most rewarding I’ve ever had – professionally and personally,” she wrote. “And finally, after years of working in television, I understand what it feels like to be connected to a community. Being out at restaurants, sporting events and of course concerts I’ve met you, the viewers. Your support, smiles and appreciation have meant everything to me.”
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5. Huddy Has Reportedly Been Married 3 Times & Is Now Dating Musician John Fattoruso
In 2009, Huddy split from her husband, Doug Barrett of Entertainment Weekly, after four months of marriage. Page Six reported at the time that this was her third marriage.
In October 2013, her brother tweeted that she was engaged to Steven Wright.
However, their relationship ended and Huddy is now dating John Fattoruso, a musician.
Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News host, filed a lawsuit on Monday, claiming that she was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment and compared Fox News to the Playboy Mansion.Click here to read more