Scottie Nell Hughes, a Fox News analyst who also previously worked as a surrogate for Donald Trump, has filed a suit against the network. In the suit, she claims she was raped by anchor Charles Payne and then reprimanded for coming forward.
According to The New York Times, Payne had been suspended by Fox but had returned to host "Making Money" on Fox Business. The network said they had completed an investigation on Payne following accusations from earlier in the Summer.
"[My client] vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless complaint," says Jonathan N. Halpern, Payne's attorney, in a statement. “We are confident that when the evidence is presented in this case, Mr. Payne will be fully vindicated and these outrageous accusations against him will be confirmed as completely false.”
The suit claims that Payne had pressured Hughes into coming to his hotel room, where she was coerced into having sex with him. She repeatedly refused his advances, saying both "no" and "stop."
She claims that she did not come forward with the incident immediately and was forced to continue having sexual relations with Payne in exchange for career opportunites. Payne had specifically promised a contributor contract, which Hughes never received. Hughes claims she was blacklisted from Fox after ending the relationship. When she reported the situation, she says that Fox leaked a story about the duo being romantically involved to The National Enquirer.
“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Ms. Hughes said in an interview. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”
Hughes' suit, which alleges gender motivated violence, gender discrimination, retaliation and defamation, was filed on Monday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Fox News has characterized the suit as “bogus" and downright shameful.” They also called the situation a "publicity stunt."
“We will vigorously defend this,” the network said in a statement.
Numerous male Fox employees have been accused of sexual violence in recent history. Reports on the network's toxic culture, which fosters (if not encourages) this kind of behavior, have exploded in the past year.
The scandals led to the resignation of the network's chairman Roger Ailes and the departure of some of Fox's biggest stars, including Bill O'Reilly.
UPDATE: A Fox News PR rerepsentative sent us the following statement on the matter: "The latest publicity stunt of a lawsuit filed by Doug Wigdor has absolutely no merit and is downright shameful. We will vigorously defend this. It’s worth noting that Doug is Ms. Hughes’ third representative in the last six months to raise some variation of these claims which concern events from four years ago, since it apparently took some time to find someone willing to file this bogus case.”
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