Laurie Dhue, a former Fox News anchor from 2000 to 2008, is the fourth woman to bring a defamation suit against Bill O’Reilly. All four women had previously reached settlement agreements with O’Reilly over allegations of sexual harassment. In the settlement agreement with 21st Century Fox, the parent company for Fox News agreed to pay Dhue $1 million for sexual harassment allegations made against Bill O’Reilly as well as Roger Ailes, the founding chairman. According to the New York Times, the settlement agreements regarding Bill O’Reilly total $45 million, and these are only the ones known to the public.
In her defamation suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Dhue is now claiming that O’Reilly defamed her character after the settlement agreement by insinuating that she was lying about the sexual harassment, that she was politically motivated, and that he only paid the settlement to avoid the emotional toll of litigation on his family instead of admitting to the underlying crime. The lawsuit goes on to say that these comments are specifically directed at Dhue’s character and trustworthiness, two things important to her new job as an advocate for addiction recovery.
In response, O’Reilly’s lawyer, Fredric Newman, said that “Mr. O’Reilly has never mentioned Dhue, and any attention she has received has been the result of her own actions.” Additionally, he has recently filed a motion to dismiss the other defamation lawsuit brought by the three women mentioned previously. Newman, as O’Reilly’s spokesperson, believes that all of these suits are “frivolous” and have “absolutely no merit.” Dhue’s attorneys, however, are asking for a jury trial and punitive, reputational, and compensatory damages.
Jenna El-Fakih is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2020).
Image: Justin Hoch, BillOReillySept2010, CC BY 2.0
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