MANHATTAN (CN) — Weeks after Fox News fired Ed Henry over a workplace sexual misconduct allegation, a woman has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the former top anchor of having violently raped her years ago.
Jennifer Eckhart, a former associate producer at Fox Business, claims the network knew about the allegation since 2017, only terminating Henry recently to get ahead of Monday’s lawsuit.
“Ms. Eckhart’s counsel also explained to Fox News, in graphic and specific detail, that Ms. Eckhart was violently raped while helpless and restrained in metal handcuffs, as Mr. Henry preformed sadistic acts on her without her consent that left her injured, bruised and battered with bloody wrists,” her 39-page complaint states.
In a statement, Eckhart shared her reasons for going public.
“My decision to speak out was not an easy one, but I refuse to let fear of retaliation, victim-shaming and further attacks intimidate me into remaining silent,” she wrote. “I am hopeful that my decision to file this action will result in positive change for women at Fox, and for all victims in the workplace, and I am honored that other women have come forward since my decision to do so."
Cathy Areu, who appeared as a guest on the network, joined the lawsuit with sexual harassment allegations at Fox’s top personalities Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz.
“It is widely documented in the public record that Fox News has not only cultivated and fostered sexual harassment and misconduct, but has consistently accepted and rewarded it,” the lawsuit begins. “Nevertheless, Fox News would have the public believe that it is a different place from the Fox News that was run by former disgraced Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Unfortunately, it is actually worse.”
Areu said in a statement that she initially had been afraid to add her name to those denouncing the network’s culture of sexual misconduct.
“However, I simply could not stay silent given the tremendous harm that Mr. Henry and others at Fox News have caused for women affiliated with the company,” Areu wrote. “I chose to file this complaint because no woman should have to suffer the conduct to which I was subjected, much less the egregious conduct suffered by Ms. Eckhart.”
Fox News came out with a statement strongly denying allegations leveled by Areu, though not the ones by Eckhart.
“Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against Fox News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz and its contributor Gianno Caldwell, are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit,” the network claims.
Opening with a "Trigger Warning," the complaint includes graphic text messages about sex, violence and domination.
“On Valentine’s Day, 2017, Mr. Henry wrote to Ms. Eckhart, ‘Fuck you and your safe word. You will know when I’m done,’” the lawsuit states, quoting a text message that was also screenshotted and posted in the complaint.
Though Areu does not allege sexual assault, she claims that Henry and other major Fox personalities bombarded her with unwelcome comments, advances and images. Areu asserts that Henry sent her “wildly inappropriate sexual images,” including a “closeup” photograph of a woman’s vagina being “clamped” closed by four clothespins and a picture of a vibrator faux smoking a cigarette.
For Easter, Henry allegedly sent Areu a picture of a woman’s rear end and vagina modified to include the features of a bunny rabbit.
Areu adds that Henry sent her a video titled “Fastest Interview … candidate selected in 3 seconds” — it depicted a woman exposing her vagina and being awarded a job.