MANHATTAN (CN) – Fox News host Bill O’Reilly lost his job almost one year ago after it came to light that he paid more than $13 million to hush up sexual-harassment lawsuits from five women at the network.
Now one of the women whom O’Reilly denied mistreating wants punitive damages. Ex-anchor Laurie Dhue tapped attorneys at Balestriere Fariello to bring a federal defamation complaint Thursday against O’Reilly in Manhattan.
“As part of his desperate campaign to clear his name, O’Reilly published false statements about Dhue — as well as the other women — calling her a liar, swearing that her allegations were fabricated in an effort to obtain a settlement, falsely asserting that her purported claims against O’Reilly were politically motivated, and lying by saying that he only paid settlements to avoid having his family go through litigation, not because he had engaged in the claimed sexual misconduct,” the 12-page complaint states.
In a statement on the case meanwhile, Dhue's lead attorney John Balestriere touted his former experience as a sex-crimes prosecutor.
“Laurie Dhue’s claims are very serious, and Mr. O’Reilly must answer the allegations that he released false public statements in the past year in an effort to salvage his own reputation and career at the expense of Dhue’s reputation and career,” Balestriere said.
Attorneys for O’Reilly have not returned a request for comment.
Published on April 1, 2017, The New York Times article that led to O’Reilly’s fall reported that 21st Century Fox paid Dhue more than $1 million to settle sexual harassment claims.
The expose sparked a series of boycotts that culminated with “The O’Reilly Factor” losing its namesake host weeks later. O’Reilly remained defiant in the face of what he called “completely unfounded claims,” which he cast as a shadowy left-wing conspiracy against him.
Due’s complaint quotes O’Reilly’s string of denials on his show “No Spin News” and interviews on other platforms like The Hollywood Reporter, “The Today Show” and Glenn Beck’s radio program.
“I have been in the broadcast business for 43 years with 12 different companies, and not one time was there any complaint filed against me,” O’Reilly told Glenn Beck, as quoted in Dhue’s.
“Nothing, zero!” he emphasized.
Dhue says statements like these, in addition to being defamatory, damaged her career in a trade that thrives upon a reporter's credibility.
"Journalists and advocates both need others to believe they are telling the truth to be successful," the complaint notes. "Labeling a journalist or advocate as a liar — especially in an area where they are not reporting or advocating — damages her career."
Since leaving Fox in 2008, Dhue has divided her time between media work and advocacy for drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.
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