Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and the network have paid out some $13 million to five women over the past 15 years to settle a series of harassment allegations against the opinionated host, according to the New York Times.
The settlements, three of which had been previously undisclosed, were in exchange for the women’s agreement not to sue the company.
O’Reilly – the top-rated attraction on cable news for many years – generated headlines in 2004 for his dispute with Andrea Mackris, who alleged that he had harassed her repeatedly while she was a producer of his program “The O’Reilly Factor.” Mackris settled her claims for a reported payout of $9 million in 2004.
In January of this year, O’Reilly settled another harassment claim, lodged by former Fox News presenter Juliet Huddy, for an undisclosed sum.
The Times found three other complaints and payouts involving O’Reilly, dating back to 2002.
Fox settled two of them, and O’Reilly privately settled a third in 2011. The latter agreement was so secret that 21st Century Fox was unaware of it until last year, the paper said.
Fox hasn’t said whether O’Reilly was ever disciplined as a result of the allegations.
O’Reilly’s statement, posted on his website, said:
Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline. But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.
O’Reilly and Fox continue to face allegations by former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros, who claimed, in a lawsuit filed last summer, that O’Reilly sexually harassed her.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Sadly, many employees fear taking because they are afraid of losing their much-needed jobs. Sexual harassment needs to be reported, though. In many cases, the harassment can escalate quickly and lead to a hostile work environment. When it gets to this point, you are unable to do your job and earn your living.