Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was hit with fresh allegations of sexual harassment when former host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit against the network, Ailes and a host of other Fox executives according to reports on Thursday (24 August).
The new lawsuit claims Ailes, host Bill O'Reilly and former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown made unwanted advances towards Tantaros while she worked at the network.
"Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fuelled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny," claimed the lawsuit, filed at the New York Supreme Court in New York County.
Fox News co-president Bill Shine, communications chief Irena Briganti, general counsel Dianne Brandi and executive vice president of programming and development, Suzanne Scott, are also listed as defendants, USA Today reported. The lawsuit comes two weeks after the former Fox host made the harassment allegations in New York magazine.
In her lawsuit, Tantaros claims Ailes retaliated after she rejected his advances by taking her off from The Five and ordering the company's media relations department turn against her, BuzzFeed News reported.
O'Reilly, Brown, Fox News correspondent John Roberts, on-air guest Ben Collins and actor Dean Cain made unwanted sexual comments or advances towards her, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit stated: "O'Reilly ('O'Reilly'), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be 'very private,' and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could 'see [her] as a wild girl,' and that he believed that she had a 'wild side.'"
After she complained, Tantaros says Brandi told her she would no longer appear on the O'Reilly Factor. The suit also claims Brown made sexually inappropriate comments towards her on the set of Outnumbered and says he placed his hands on her lower waist during lunch. She claims to have reported the behaviour but nothing was done, BuzzFeed News reported.
The former senator denied the allegations in a lengthy statement and an interview on The Howie Carr Show. "I never have touched Andrea Tantaros except to shake her hand and say good morning," he said. Brown claimed he had never had any social conversation with the show host or exchanged emails.
When asked about his wife's reaction to the allegations, Brown said: "She knows I was sexually abused as a kid and these things are pretty personal and I take those types of sexual innuendo and all that stuff pretty seriously and don't perpetuate that kind of narrative."
It is the second lawsuit against Ailes in two months. In July, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson sued the 76-year-old executive for sexual harassment. Carlson claimed Ailes declined to renew her contract because she refused to sleep with him.
Ailes declined the allegations but stepped down on 22 July following an internal investigation conducted by parent company 21st Century Fox.