A lawsuit filed in a Federal court on Monday by two women against Fox News has accused former reporter and host Ed Henry of rape. The suit also accused him of retaliation when the two women resisted his advances. The lawsuit also says several Fox Network executives knew about Henry's alleged behavior against female employees and ignoring them for years.
Henry was fired on July 1 following a years-old complaint of sexual harassment the network received. The lawsuit filed by Jennifer Eckhart, a former associate producer on Fox Business, and Cathy Areu, a former frequent guest as news analyst on Fox shows, have accused the network of showing apathy towards sexual misconduct and offenders that has kept saving employees like Henry for years.
Lawsuit Accuses Fox News
The lawsuit accuses Fox News and its executives of knowing about Henry's sexual misconduct long before June 25, when it received a years-long complaint. However, it never took any action for years and fired Henry only recently after investigating a complaint about "willful sexual misconduct in the workplace." The lawsuit now seeks a jury trial and unspecified monetary compensation.
Besides, the lawsuit claims that co-plaintiff Areu was sexually harassed by several other men at Fox News, including Hannity, Carlson, journalist Howard Kurtz and contributing political analyst Gianno Caldwell. Fox News, however, said in a statement that it has conducted an independent investigation and based on its findings has come to the conclusion that Arue's claims against the alleged Fox employees are false.
"We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed â in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations," read the statement. "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," it further read.
What did Henry do?
According to the lawsuit, Henry started flirting with Eckhart in 2014, when she had just graduated from journalism school and had joined the network. Although Eckhart made it clear that she wasn't "interested in a romantic relationship" with Henry, he kept on pursuing her till she one day agreed to have drinks with him.
The lawsuit mentions that after finishing the drinks Henry asked Eckhart to come to his room and when she went, Henry "ripped off her clothes" and she had sexual intercourse with him fearing that her career would be over if she resisted.
Henry continued to pursue Eckhart despite her rejections and his assaults continued for years. In 2015, according to the lawsuit, Eckhart was forced to perform oral sex on Henry in a room in the network's New York headquarters.
Eckhart was once again subject to sexual assault in 2017 after Henry invited her to his hotel room to discuss her career, following his promotion as an anchor in Fox network. The lawsuit says that this time Henry tied metal handcuffs on her wrists, threw her in the bed and started taking her naked photographs despite her repeated resistance. He then raped her, the lawsuit said.
However, Eckhart, despite raising her issue with Fox network's human relations earlier this year, wasn't heard and no one ever followed up with her. Instead, the company informed her that her contract would be terminated in June.
Henry's multiple preys
Eckhart wasn't Henry's only victim of sexual assaults. The lawsuit claims that the former anchor had also sent a series of "widely inappropriate sexual messages" to Areu in 2020. One of the messages was a video of a mock interview in which the woman gets a job after she impresses the interviewer by exposing her vagina.
The lawsuit accuses Henry of calling Areu a "jerk" after she resisted his advances in a May 21 phone call this year. Besides, the lawsuit also accused other Fox executives Kurtz, Hannity and Carson for making sexual advances toward Areu mostly by inviting her to their rooms. She had to pay the price as her appearances on their shows dramatically got reduced following her refusals and rejections. However, Fox has denied all these claims of Areu and has vowed to fight on behalf of its employees till the end.