Fox commentator sues Roger Ailes, network in sex harassment case

By Allen Cone  |  April 3, 2017 at 3:03 PM
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April 3 (UPI) -- A paid commentator at Fox News Channel filed a lawsuit Monday against former chairman Roger Ailes and the cable network, alleging sexual harassment.

Nearly nine months after Ailes was ousted from the network, Julie Roginsky, a Fox News contributor, sued Ailes, Fox News and Bill Shine, the network's co-president. The 17-page suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.

In the suit, Roginsky said Ailes made unwanted sexual advances that led her to believe she would be promoted to host the early evening program The Five.

She said she never received the promotion after spurning his advances and refusing to disparage Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News host who reached a $20 million settlement in September over alleged sexual harassment committed by Ailes in September. Roginsky and Carlson have the same attorney, Nancy Erika Smith.

Roginsky, a 43-year-old single mother, joined Fox News formally in fall 2011 after seven years as unpaid commentator, the lawsuit said. She has advised and worked for several Democrats in New Jersey, including Sen. Cory Booker, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, the former senator and governor.

The suit said Ailes encouraged her to date older, married men, often praised her looks and asked her to join him for drinks, even in his office.

Fox News, 21st Century Fox and Shine didn't immediately comment on the suit.

In a statement emailed to NPR, Ailes' lawyer Susan Estrich called Roginsky's descriptions of meetings with her client "total hogwash."

"The idea that Mr. Ailes would pressure Ms. Roginsky or any other women to have sexual relations with him is total nonsense," the statement reads. "This is about someone who wants to pile on in a massive character assassination in order to achieve what she did not accomplish on the merits."

Roginsky said Shine and Fox's lawyer, Dianne Brandi, didn't investigate her allegations that Ailes had harassed her. The lawsuit noted the company instituted new policies and hired an outside law firm to lead an inquiry into accusations against Ailes.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan is investigating how Fox News structures its settlements.

Last weekend, The New York Times reported five women made allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior against the network's top-rated host, Bill O'Reilly. Four of them received payouts in exchange for not pursue suing or speaking about their accusations against him, the newspaper reported.

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