Fox News Asks Court To Toss Latest Rape Lawsuit, Gets Brutal Response
A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a lawsuit against Fox News by former guest Scottie Nell Hughes, who claims she was banned from the network after reporting she was raped by Fox Business host Charles Payne, must proceed, several news outlets reported Wednesday.
Hughes, a conservative political commentator during the 2016 presidential campaign, sued Fox News on Sept. 19, 2017. In her suit, Hughes alleges that Payne had raped her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.
The lawsuit also charges that the network retaliated by blacklisting Hughes from the network after she reported she was attacked.
“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Hughes told The New York Times in September. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”
She also said Payne promised career opportunities in exchange for a sexual relationship and claims the ordeal lasted over the two years following the alleged rape.
The network called the lawsuit a “publicity stunt” last September and “downright shameful” and accused Hughes of filing a “bogus claim” for financial motives.
“The latest publicity stunt of a lawsuit filed by Doug Wigdor has absolutely no merit and is downright shameful. We will vigorously defend this,” a Fox News spokesperson said at the time.
The court, however, disagrees with Fox News.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III denied a request by 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News and Fox Business, to stop Hughes’ lawsuit from going to court.
Pauley wrote in his opinion that since Hughes was an unpaid guest and not a paid contributor, she “may not be considered under the financial benefit analysis.”
Payne was suspended in July 2017 but returned to hosting his program, “Making Money” on Fox Business, in September following an internal investigation.
Fox News has seen several major changes since July 2016, when former Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was removed from the network two weeks after former host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment.
Bill O’Reilly, a top-rated host on cable news for 15 years, was forced to resign from the network one year ago after a New York Times report revealed payments of $13 million to five women who accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment.