Ed Henry, who was recently fired from Fox News, and other talent from the conservative cable news network were accused of sexual misconduct in a new lawsuit filed on Monday.
In the lawsuit filed by legal representatives for Cathy Areu, a guest who appeared multiple times on Fox News, and Jennifer Eckhart, a former associate producer for Fox Business, Henry is accused of sexual harassment of both women. Eckhart also alleged Henry raped and sexually assaulted her. Additionally, Areu accused Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and other men employed by Fox News of sexual harassment.
In response to the filing, Fox News released a statement denying the allegations against Carlson, Sean Hannity and Howard Kurtz, as well as contributor Gianno Caldwell. "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 and Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit," they stated. "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."
The statement continued, "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 was terminated from his position as co-anchor of America's Newsroom on July 1 of this year after Fox News learned of "willful sexual misconduct in the workplace" that had taken place "years ago", according to an email obtained by CNN.
His lawyer, Catherine M. Foti, said, in part, of the allegations, "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."
According to the lawsuit, Eckhart alleged that Henry raped and assaulted her and "performed sadistic acts on her without her consent that left her injured, bruised and battered with bloody wrists." The alleged assault took place in the Fox News offices in New York City, with the alleged rape occurring in a hotel described as a venue where "Fox News frequently lodged its visiting employees," per the documents.
Areu also alleged in the filing that Carlson, Hannity, Kurtz and political analyst Caldwell, in addition to Henry, sexually harassed her on multiple occasions.
Each woman claimed that Fox News was aware Henry "had engaged in sexual misconduct as far back as early 2017," but failed to prevent further acts of sexual violence against female staff. A Fox News spokesperson denied this accusation in a statement to E! News: "There were not sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at Fox News prior to Jennifer Eckhart's claim on June 25, 2020."
As a result, Eckhart is suing Fox and Henry for violations of federal sex-trafficking laws, New York state and city human rights laws, and for gender-motivated violence under New York City's administrative code. Likewise Areu is suing Henry and Fox News on the same grounds, except for the sex trafficking violations.
The plaintiffs request a jury trial and damages.
Fox News was previously the subject of a lawsuit after multiple women accused the late Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly of sexual misconduct. Both men denied any and all accusations of sexual misconduct.
According to USA Today, "The parent company of Fox News Channel, Twenty-First Century Fox, has paid $45 million in settlements related to sexual harassment allegations against former CEO Roger Ailes."
The New York Times reported that O'Reilly reached legal settlements with at least six women totaling a reported $45 million in 2017.