Fox News settled sexual harassment allegations against Bill O'Reilly, the network's top on-air personality, in the weeks after former chairman Roger Ailes' dismissal from the network last summer, the New York Times reports.
The network reached a confidential settlement reportedly in the high six figures with Juliet Huddy, a longtime contributor to the network, after her attorneys sent a letter to Fox News executives alleging that O'Reilly sexually harassed her starting in 2011 and retaliated against her professionally when she declined his advances. The letter makes similar claims against Fox News co-president Jack Abernethy.
According to the letter, O'Reilly forcibly kissed Huddy and called her on the phone while he was masturbating. When Huddy, who was a frequent guest on The O'Reilly Factor, made it clear she was not interested in him sexually, he began belittling her work and dropped her from the show, the letter alleges.
Representatives for Fox News and O'Reilly have denied the charges. "The letter contains substantial falsehoods, which both men have vehemently denied," Irena Briganti, a spokeswoman for Fox News, said in a statement.
O'Reilly has had numerous accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him during his tenure at Fox News. In August, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros accused him in a lawsuit against the company of making sexually explicit comments to her. And O'Reilly settled a suit in 2004 with an O'Reilly Factor producer who made eerily similar accusations to the ones leveled by Huddy.
Ailes was ousted from the company in July after the scandal surrounding him became insurmountable. At the time, Fox News said that behavior like Ailes' would no longer be tolerated.
Abernethy's contract was renewed in September. O'Reilly remains in the 8pm weekday slot.