Former Fox News host Ed Henry who was fired over rape accusations has sued Suzanne Scott, the network’s CEO, claiming she ‘defamed him as a sex criminal’ while hiding an affair between company president Jay Wallace and an employee.
The lawsuit, which was filed in US District Court in New Jersey, named Scott and Fox News as defendants and seeks an unspecified amount of damages to be determined by a trial.
Lawyers for Henry wrote in the lawsuit, obtained by DailyMail.com, that Scott said the former host ‘was guilty of unspecified sexual misconduct’ when she knew he had been ‘falsely accused of rape or serious sexual misconduct by a former Fox News employee’ – which would soon become public.
‘Ms. Scott sandbagged [Henry] with her statement, lending credence to the false allegations because she was trying to save her own career and burnish her image as a tough, no nonsense female executive who cleaned up Fox News,’ the lawsuit reads.
Henry alleges that he was used as ‘an instrument’ and ‘scapegoat’ to cover up the existence of sexual misconduct at Fox News and divert attention away from Scott’s ‘own sordid history’ at the network.
Former Fox News host Ed Henry who was fired over rape accusations has sued Suzanne Scott, the network’s CEO, claiming she defamed him ‘as a sex criminal’
Henry accused Scott, left, of using him as a ‘scapegoat’ to hide an affair between company president Jay Wallace, left, and an employee. The lawsuit does not reveal who Wallace allegedly had an affair with
In the lawsuit, lawyers for Henry pointed to a statement from Fox News President Jay Wallace, which he made on July 1, 2020.
Henry’s lawyers wrote that the statement referred to a June 25, 2020 draft of a complaint that ‘falsely accused’ Henry of raping former Fox Business producer Jennifer Eckhart.
‘[Henry] had never sexually harassed or assaulted Ms. Eckhart, and Ms. Scott had no reason to believe that he did,’ the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit notes that before the allegations were revealed, Fox News had said that ‘no one had ever complained’ about Henry before Eckhart.
‘Ms. Scott had every reason to know that Ms. Eckhart was lying about [Henry’s] alleged misconduct because he voluntarily provided texts, emails, and photographs proving that Ms. Eckhart had lied about [him],’ the lawsuit reads.
‘Ms. Scott also knew that Ms. Eckhart was lying about the reasons for her termination from Fox.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Eckhart for more information and additional comment about Henry’s lawsuit.
In statements provided to DailyMail.com, a Fox News spokesperson said the network had ‘conducted a thorough independent investigation into Ed Henry.’
‘As we stated one year ago, FOX News Media conducted a thorough independent investigation into Ed Henry immediately after we were made aware of a serious misconduct claim against him by a former employee,’ the statement reads.
‘Based on the results of those findings, we promptly terminated Mr. Henry’s employment for willful sexual misconduct and stand by the decision entirely.’
The statement continues: ‘We are fully prepared to vigorously defend against these baseless allegations as Mr. Henry further embarrasses himself in a lawsuit rife with inaccuracies after driving his personal life into the ground with countless extramarital affairs in a desperate attempt for relevance and redemption.’
In the lawsuit, lawyers for Henry pointed to a statement from Fox News President Jay Wallace, which he made on July 1, 2020
In a post made to Twitter, Eckhart blasted Fox News for the statement – which had also been provided to the Hollywood Reporter. Eckhart wrote that the network ‘conveniently left out’ the serious rape allegations.
Henry, meanwhile, blasted Fox News for the investigation it had conducted into the allegations, calling the investigation a ‘sham’ that ‘lasted less than a week.’
The lawsuit alleges that Henry had a ‘consensual affair’ with Eckhart that started in 2014 and ‘had ended in early 2017′ which was ‘more than three years before Ms. Eckhart levied the false accusations.’
Henry then made accusations in the lawsuit that Scott had covered up an affair between Wallace and a subordinate employee ‘while he was still married.’
‘Worse still, Mr. Wallace had demonstrated favoritism toward his subordinate lover, and he was investigated by Fox News’ Human Resources Department for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate,’ the lawsuit reads.
Jennifer Eckhart, a former Fox News employee who accused Henry of raping her, has addressed the lawsuit on Twitter
The lawsuit does not name the employee whom Wallace is accused of having the affair with.
‘That investigation obtained unequivocal evidence confirming Mr. Wallace’s illicit relationship and favoritism, but the incident was intentionally covered up by Ms. Scott, who, and incredibly, boasted in her July 1, 2020 Statement about her efforts toward ‘full transparency given the many actions we have taken to improve the culture here over the last four years’.’
A Fox News spokesperson said in a statement provided to DailyMail.com that ‘FOX conducted a full and independent investigation of the claims against Jay Wallace — he was cleared of any wrongdoing and the allegations are false.’
The lawsuit also pointed to a story in the Daily Beast which described Scott as a ‘lieutenant’ for the late Roger Ailes – who resigned from Fox News in July 2016 after he was accused of sexually harassing employees including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly.
‘As the story alleges, Ms. Scott enabled and covered up sexual abuses committed by former Fox News’ CEO Roger Ailes while she served as one of his top lieutenants, while the pattern of cover-ups, and her willful participation in doing so, continued after her promotion to Fox News CEO,’ the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit reads that Scott and Fox News ‘knowingly created the false impression’ that Henry ‘had done something far more sinister than Mr. Wallace, Mr. Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and a host of former Fox News employees and executives who were quietly terminated or allowed to resign.’
The lawsuit also takes shots at Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media mogul who owns and runs the Fox News empire and other global news outlets.
‘Ms. Scott’s motivations for scapegoating Plaintiff were clear: At the time Ms. Eckhart made her false allegations against Plaintiff, Ms. Scott was hoping to be promoted to another position within the media empire of Rupert Murdoch,’ the lawsuit reads.
‘According to a March 2, 2021 article in the Australian Financial Review, Lachlan Murdoch is the heir apparent to his father Rupert, and he had ‘grown weary of the relentless controversies surrounding Fox News’.’
The lawsuit added: ‘Ms. Scott was willing to do anything to keep the Murdochs happy, and for that reason she was trying to distance herself from the many controversies surrounding Fox News.’
According to the lawsuit, ‘the duplicity of Ms. Scott and Fox News is not limited to matters of sexual misconduct.’
‘As control of the company shifts from the aging Rupert Murdoch to his more liberal children, the company has increasingly tried to walk both sides of the left-right political divide,’ the lawsuit reads.
‘The Murdoch children want to appease their left-leaning social circles, but they also want to keep raking in tens of millions of dollars from Fox News’ right-of-center leaning audience.
‘Thus, their love-hate relationship with former President Trump and the network’s conservative viewers. Ms. Scott wanted to appease the Murdoch heirs and keep her job, thus the motivation for her duplicity toward [Henry.’
The Fox News spokesperson defended Scott’s tenure at the company in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘Under the leadership of CEO Suzanne Scott, FOX News Media has worked tirelessly to transform the company culture, implementing annual, mandatory in-person harassment prevention training, creating an entirely new reporting structure, more than tripling the size of our HR footprint, conducting quarterly company meetings and mentoring events, as well as executing a zero tolerance policy regarding workplace misconduct for which we engage outside independent firms to handle investigations,’ the statement reads.
‘No other company has enacted such a comprehensive and continuous overhaul, which notably, earned FOX News Media recognition as a ‘Great Place to Work’ for the first time in its existence, a testament to the many cultural changes that Ms. Scott has instituted during her incredibly successful tenure as CEO.’
The news of the lawsuit came after the New York City Commission on Human Rights fined Fox News $1 million, the largest penalty in its history, for violations of laws protecting against sexual harassment and job retaliation.
As part of a settlement agreement announced Tuesday, Fox also agreed to mandate anti-harassment training for its New York-based staff and contributors and to temporarily drop a policy requiring people who allege misconduct to enter into binding arbitration.
The penalty stems from an investigation that began in 2017 following several reports of what the commission called ‘rampant abuse’ at the popular news and opinion outlet.
The first indication of problems at the channel came in 2016 when former anchor Gretchen Carlson charged that now-deceased network chief Roger Ailes had made unwanted advances and derailed her career when she rejected him. Both Ailes and former Fox personality Bill O’Reilly lost their jobs over misconduct allegations.
Several other women have come forward with lawsuits and their own harassment allegations, including former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly.
The $1 million fine groups four separate ‘willful and wanton’ violations that each carried a maximum penalty of $250,000. The commission would not identify the people involved in those cases, or whether there were more.
Human rights officials said they hoped the large penalty would deter bad behavior at any workplace.
‘If people would dare to break the law and discriminate or harass people, there will be stiff penalties they would have to pay,’ said Carmelyn Malalis, chairwoman of the city Commission on Human Rights.
Fox has characterized the cases as the product of a previous regime and said the network has cleaned up its act under the leadership of Suzanne Scott, current CEO of Fox News Media. The commission said it did not interview anyone who came forward after Scott took over in 2018.
‘We are pleased to reach an amicable resolution of this legacy matter,’ Fox said in a statement.
‘Fox News Media has already been in full compliance across the board, but cooperated with the New York City Commission on Human Rights to continue enacting extensive preventive measures against all forms of discrimination and harassment.’