Jennifer Eckhart is the former Fox Business Network producer who is accusing one of the network’s former high-ranking reporters, Ed Henry, of rape in a new lawsuit. A Fox News spokesperson has confirmed to Heavy that Eckhart is no longer employed by the network.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court Southern District of New York on July 20, Eckhart, 30, accuses Henry, 48, of rape and of coercive sex. Another Fox News personality, Cathy Areu, is named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Areu accuses various Fox News personalities, including Sean Hannity, of sexual harassment. Both are represented by Michael Willemin of Wigdor LLP in the case.
On June 25, Henry was suspended by Fox News pending an investigation into allegations made against him. On July 1, Henry was fired by the network, CNN Business reported. Henry had been with Fox News since June 2011. The lawsuit alleges Eckhart had told her superiors at Fox News on June 25 that she had hired outside legal counsel to pursue her complaints against Henry.
Following the publication of this article, a Fox News spokesperson issued a statement to Heavy. It said:
Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit.
We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart’s claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network.
Henry tweeted, “I will fight with every fiber of my being.” He also released a statement from his attorney, Cathy Foti, denying the accusations and saying he was in a consensual relationship with Eckhart:
The MeToo movement has helped to bring to light a number of injustices in our society, and everyone that has suffered deserves to be heard. This is not one of those cases. The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship. Ed Henry looks forward to presenting actual facts and evidence, which will contradict the fictional accounts contained in the complaint. That evidence includes graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications that Ms. Eckhart sent to Mr. Henry.
Eckhart Alleges Henry Asked Her to Be His ‘Sex Slave’ & Called Her a ‘Little W****’
Eckhart alleges that Henry began preying on her when she joined the network in January 2013 at the age of 24. The producer and personality alleges that Henry asked her to be his “sex slave” and referred to her as his “little w****.” Eckhart says Henry threatened her with retaliation if she did not comply with his sexual demands. In addition, Eckhart said she was raped at a hotel that was frequently used by Fox News to house people. This action, the lawsuit alleges, means Fox News, “whether knowingly or unknowingly,” facilitated “Mr. Henry’s conduct.”
Eckhart alleges in the lawsuit that during one incident, Henry raped her “violently” while she was “restrained in metal handcuffs.” Eckhart describes Henry’s actions as “sadistic,” adding that they “left her injured bruised and battered with bloody wrists.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Fox News misled the public by claiming responsibility for the findings against Henry that led to his firing. The lawsuit says the network “knew that Mr. Henry had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017.” It also claims multiple women made allegations against Henry amid the investigation in the wake of Roger Ailes’ removal. A Fox spokesperson told Heavy, “There were not sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at FOX News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020.”
In a statement issued following the Fox News and Foti statements, Eckhart’s attorneys said:
As alleged in the complaint, Fox News was aware of complaints against Mr. Henry involving sexually inappropriate conduct before he raped Ms. Henry. … The complaint asserts that Fox News did nothing. Even putting that aside, the complaint notes that Mr. Henry engaged in this unlawful and egregious conduct while employed by Fox News. It is outrageous and contrary to common sense that Fox News purports not to take responsibility for his actions. Ultimately, we are confident that a jury will hold Fox News responsible for the acts of its employees, as well as its own conduct in responding to these allegations.
Although Ms. Foti notes that the #MeToo movement has helped to bring to light a number of injustices in our country, she proceeds to engage in just the type of injustice that the #MeToo movement has worked so hard to curb. Specifically, Ms. Foti invokes a rape myth; namely, that a victim of rape would never send her attacker friendly or even consensual-looking messages. As we know having watched the Weinstein trial (and represented many of his victims), that myth simply is not true. The statement also seeks to slut-shame Ms. Eckhart and suggests that she was asking to be violently raped. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it is precisely because of these types of attacks that many victims of sexual assault and rape suffer in silence
Eckhart’s attorneys added, “We call on Fox News to work with our clients to retain a truly independent investigator who is transparent. The results of any such investigation should be made public for the world to see.”
Eckhart Calls Herself a ‘Female Powerhouse in the Media Industry’
According to Eckhart’s LinkedIn page, she joined Fox News in January 2013 a producer on the Fox Business Network. Eckhart said that she worked on segments that involved luminaries such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. Eckhart has also made appearances on Fox News Radio and on Fox Nation.
On her personal website, Eckhart is referred to as a “female powerhouse in the media industry.” Eckhart produced the show Countdown to Closing Bell, the bio says. Prior to working at Fox News, Eckhart was a reporter for ESPN Radio and hosted the 2011 ESPN College Football Awards. One section of the page reads, “Jennifer thrives in the intersection of business, tech and entertainment news.”
Eckhart is a graduate of the University of Florida where she was a member of the Tri-Delta Sorority and “is a professionally trained actress,” the bio adds. Eckhart is a native of Miami, Florida. In addition to ESPN Radio, Eckhart formerly worked for NBC Sports and Gainesville, Florida’s PBS affiliate WUFT-TV. In 2011, Eckhart interned at Fox News working on Neil Cavuto’s show.
As News of the Allegations Emerged, Eckhart Posted a Gretchen Carlson Quote to Her Instagram Story
As news of Eckhart and Areu’s allegations was announced, Eckhart posted a screenshot of a Gretchen Carlson tweet that read, “Have the courage to be disliked,” to her Instagram story. In July 2016, Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox News citing years of sexual harassment at the hands of the network’s former chairman Roger Ailes. In September 2016, Carlson settled with Fox News for $20 million.
Carlson tweeted about Eckhart’s lawsuit, saying, “I stand w/@JenniferEckhart and #CathyAreu 2 immensely brave women who now have their voices heard. I know how hard it is to come forward w/ allegations. We won’t cower in a corner anymore. We are standing up, we are fierce & being heard.”
On her Instagram bio, Eckhart writes that she is a “National TV Journalist, Producer & Radio Personality, Public Speaker & Advocate.” Eckhart adds that she is “Cat mom of 2020 march Meowdness Champion.”
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