Scottie Nell Hughes, a pro-Trump TV pundit, has filed a jaw dropping lawsuit against Fox News.
The lawsuit pointedly names 21st Century Fox, Fox News, Executive VP Diane Brandi, Spokeswoman Irena Briganti, and Fox Business anchor Charles Payne. The suit was filed on Monday and includes a variety of allegations that range from rape and sexual harassment to “retaliation inflicted by Fox News executives in order to protect male, on-air talent.”
Hughes’s Manhattan-based attorney, Douglas Wigdor, claims that after she “confidentially” told Fox News about the sexual harassment and rape, network execs “ruthlessly” leaked her name to the National Enquirer along with a “self-serving statement” by Payne apologizing for having an “affair” that transpired between 2013 and 2015.
Hughes’s lawsuit states that Payne raped her.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Payne’s attorney issued a statement Monday: “My client Charles Payne vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless complaint. 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.”
Both Hughes and Payne are married to other people.
When some of these allegations initially surfaced back in early July, Fox News suspended Payne to investigate the matter. The investigation recently concluded. Fox News made an announcement on Sept. 8. Payne is back anchoring his show on Fox Business.
During the investigatory phase, racy emails surfaced that Hughes allegedly sent to Payne in 2013.
All that dirty laundry is out there and if the lawsuit moves forward, there will undoubtedly be more.
Red Alert Politics ran the sex-laden emails, as did a slew of other publications. One involved Hughes describing a dream she had about Payne that involved glistening skin that smelled like coconut as well as butt cheeks.
Warning: If children are around, send them to bed.
“You are going to need every once [sic] of energy if we are ever given the chance of lots of time and no commitments. …’Do you know what I keep dreaming about.. You and I in the pool… My legs wrapped around your waste [sic] and you have me pressed up against the wall of the pool.’ …’Skin glistening and smelling of coconut… You thrusting yourself deeper inside with each push… And your fingers grasping each of my cheeks. Holding me to you.'”
Payne defended himself on Twitter.
He completely denied any accusation of sexual harassment.
“That is an ugly lie I vehemently deny to my core,” he wrote. “There is a mountain of proof that also proves it’s a lie. …I will fight this like a lion armed with the truth. Thanks so much to all those that have reached out in support. #FightingBack.”
No word on whether the lion smells of coconut suntan lotion.
“My complaint speaks for itself,” Hughes said in a statement. “What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I’m now living. On my behalf, Wigdor LLP will expose Fox’s unconscionable conduct, including leaking my name to the media. I am grateful to my husband, family, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and support.”
Hughes’s lawsuit loudly references Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who sued Fox News for sexual harassment allegations against the late Roger Ailes in 2016. Fox News settled with her for $20 million. It also mentions the network’s former star Bill O’Reilly, who settled with numerous women who alleged sexual harassment, which he strongly denied.
Fox News fired O’Reilly in May.
“Now, Fox has hit a base, deplorable level that no one suspected possible,” Hughes’s lawsuit states.
“In late June 2017, Ms. Hughes, confidentially, contacted lawyers at Paul Weiss, the outside firm hired by Fox to conduct ‘internal investigations’ following the barrage of sexual harassment allegations, to disclose the details about the sexual assault and rape, and other relevant facts of her unlawful treatment. The lead independent lawyer suggested that it would be best to reach a business solution rather than conduct a formal investigation. The Paul Weiss lawyer explained that a formal investigation simply would open a can of worms.”
But days later, the filing says, Fox News said a “business solution” would not be possible.
Fox News released a statement Monday calling Hughes’s lawsuit nothing more than a “publicity stunt.”
“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.”
Hughes’s suit claims Fox News execs knew she had been sexually assaulted and went to the National Enquirer anyhow. There is no explanation in the filing on why police were never called or why Hughes never sought medical help after she was allegedly raped.
It does say that “no rational female employee would dare report sexual assault by a senior male employee” if she knew that Fox News would leak her name to the National Enquirer to protect the male employee.
A Washington journalist remarked on Hughes’s reputation to The Mirror on condition of anonymity: “She’s nuts. If she ever gets another job in conservative politics I’ll be shocked. And assume she slept with someone to get it.”
The sharply-worded court filing describes Hughes’s pain in revealing herself as a rape victim.
“However painful it is to expose the fact that she is a rape victim, and knowing that the Fox PR machine will follow through with its threats to reveal more personal emails, Ms. Hughes cannot allow Fox to victimize her a second time by trampling on her reputation and ruining her career in order to promote the actions of a male on-air talent,” the filing states.
“Fox must be held accountable for its horrific behavior,” the filing says.