Former Fox News Anchor Accused of Rape and Sexual Harassment

AP Photo/Richard Drew

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Fox News on Monday, accusing former anchor Ed Henry of rape and alleged that he retaliated against two women who rejected his sexual advances. The lawsuit was brought by Jennifer Eckhart who is a former Fox Business Network producer and online personality, making the rape allegations against Henry, and Cathy Areu, who is the journalist who would appear on Fox News frequently.

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Henry was reportedly abruptly fired by the network on July 1st after they received a complaint of sexual harassment from years ago. Catherine Foti, who is the attorney representing Henry, released a statement saying that Henry had engaged in what she describes as a “consensual relationship” with Eckhart.

She noted,

“The Me Too movement has helped to bring to light a number of injustices in our society, and everyone that has suffered deserves to be heard. This is not one of those cases. 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.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Areu was the subject of sexual harassment by three other Fox News host, Howard Kurtz, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson. In a statement, a Fox News spokesperson rejected all the claims of harassment regarding the three Fox hosts. There was a comprehensive independent investigation that included interviews with several eyewitnesses which was conducted by an outside Law Firm, describing Areu’s allegations as “false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit.”

A Fox News spokesperson noted the network takes all claims of misconduct, harassment, and retaliation seriously, and promptly investigated them by taking immediate action as needed. The spokesperson noted that the women can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as Fox News already took action as soon as he learned of Miss Eckhart’s claims on June 25th.

The lawsuit States Henry started flirting with Eckhart back in 2014 and she recently graduated from journalism school. It states the woman was not romantically interested in Henry, but that the host persisted in his advances, finally agreeing to have drinks with him one night. After their drinks, Henry invited the woman to his room and ”ripped off her clothes” in which you ultimately had sexual relationships with him,” fearing that her career will be over if she refused.”

The lawsuit describes Henry continuing to pursue the woman, despite her several attempts to rebuff him. Eckhart alleged that in September 2015, she was forced to perform oral sex on him at a guest office at Fox News in New York City headquarters. In 2017, they agreed to meet for another drink. Henry undisclosed he was about to be promoted to an anchor on the network, and invited her to take a “walk to discuss his career at his hotel.” Scared for her job, Eckhart agreed. When they arrived, Henry allegedly expressed several interests in bondage and then applied handcuffs to her wrist while she was on the bed, despite her objection. The lawsuit notes Henry then took naked photographs of her despite the woman pleading him to stop and to delete the photos.

After he took the photos, he proceeded to forcefully rape her while she was restrained and helpless. The lawsuit notes that while raping her, Henry performed sadistic acts on her including violently hitting her in the face multiple times. Eckhart notified Fox News ‘ human resources and her supervisor on February 10, 2020. She stated she was experiencing a very toxic work environment, but the lawsuit says no one followed up with her and that the company retaliated against her by informing her that her “employment would be terminated” after more than seven years working for Fox.

The lawsuit also notes Henry sent Areu several inappropriate sexual images through text messages in 2020. The lawsuit alleges that Henry knew the woman wanted to be employed by Fox News which is why he was telling her that he would assist her career if she had sex with them. On a phone call on May 21st, Areu did not agree to Henry’s advances, to which he called her a jerk and cut off contact with her. In 2018, Henry had allegedly thrown $100 on a desk and started telling the men in the room to take Areu out on a date.

Also in 2018, the lawsuit states Carlson had also told her he would be alone in his hotel room, describing Carlson as “probing to see” where or not Areu was interested in a sexual relationship. In July 2019, Kurtz reportedly limited her to meet in a lobby bar of a hotel he was staying it, late3r implying he was upset that she did not go to his hotel room. Cathy Areu claims that after refusing to go alone with the men’s led to her appear less on their shows.

Despite the claims, a Fox News spokesperson said that the investigation conducted by an outside Law Firm had determined that all of Areu’s claims were false. They called the allegations “baseless,” noting, “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,” the company said.

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