Ex-employee sues Fox News under new sex abuse law

A former Fox News employee who said she was sexually assaulted by the network’s late executive Roger Ailes has filed a lawsuit under New York State’s Adult Survivors Act.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the New York State Supreme Court, also names names 21st Century Fox, the former nickname of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corp., and Bill Shine, a first lieutenant to Ailes and former President of Fox News, who now works for Nexstar Media Group’s NewsNation.

Laura Luhn, who worked at Fox News for 15 years, said Ailes used his position “amid a decades-long cycle of sexual abuse”. The former booker’s relationship with Ailes dates back to the early 1990s, before Fox News started, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges Ailes, who died in 2017, photographed and videotaped Luhn in compromising positions for “blackmail material” which he described as his “insurance policy” – and made it clear to Luhn that any attempt to speak out or the stopping abuse, which would result in “severe personal humiliation and professional ruin.”

The lawsuit also said Fox News executives were involved in coordinated public smear campaigns against other victims of sexual abuse. “These gruesome campaigns kept other victims like Luhn silent,” the suit reads.

Commenting on the lawsuit, a Fox News Media representative said, “This matter was settled years ago, dismissed in subsequent litigation, and is without merit.”

Luhn, who left Fox News in 2011, can file suits under New York State’s Adult Survivors Act, which provides a “hindsight window” for sexual assault survivors. The law’s one-year window, which went into effect on November 24, allows claims to be filed in cases previously barred by statutes of limitations.

“Luhn is bringing this lawsuit to finally seek redress for all of the physical, mental, emotional and professional harm she has suffered and continues to suffer as a result of severe sexual abuse at the hands of Ailes, Fox News and their supporters,” according to the Suit says.

Luhn previously shared her story in a New York Magazine article after Ailes was ousted from Fox News in 2016 after former host Gretchen Carlson claimed he molested her.

Carlson received an apology from Fox and a $20 million settlement of her lawsuit, which helped fuel the #MeToo movement.

Fox News used an outside law firm to investigate harassment at the company.

The movement resulted in the firing of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who has faced multiple charges and personally paid an accuser a $32 million settlement.

Luhn also received a $3.15 million settlement in 2011 after filing a sexual harassment complaint against Ailes. The severance payment was paid in annual payments of $250,000 over 12 years, her last salary on the network.

Luhn lost a defamation lawsuit against Fox News in 2018. She claimed that Fox News Media executive Suzanne Scott defamed her in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, in which Scott said that although she was part of Ailes’ inner circle, she had no knowledge of his behavior.

Luhn was not mentioned in the story or mentioned by Scott in the interview.

Luhn also filed a $725 million lawsuit against Showtime Networks, then withdrew it for her portrayal in the limited series Loudest Voice in the Room, based on the Fox News molestation story. She claimed the series portrayed her as Ailes’ accomplice and helped him arrange private meetings with women he had abused.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2023-01-26/fox-news-employee-sues-sexual-assault-new-york-state-survivor-law Ex-employee sues Fox News under new sex abuse law

Sarah Ridley

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