During recent months and years, the country has been coming to terms with an epidemic of sexual harassment and assault. The “#MeToo” movement has brought down an array of powerful men who, until recently, were able to hold onto positions of power even after having perpetrated crimes against women — although notably, it hasn’t brought down the president yet.
Even still, the private sector continues to come to terms with the issue as time goes on. One of those interests having to do so is conservative media giant 21st Century Fox, which has been rocked in recent years by the revelation of a culture of sexual harassment at the network facilitated by its now deceased former Chairman Roger Ailes.
According to a lawsuit from former Fox News contributor Scottie Nell Hughes, Fox Business host Charles Payne is among those to have perpetrated such behavior. On Tuesday, Judge William Pauley ruled against Fox and allowed Hughes’ lawsuit against the company to proceed. She alleges that Payne raped her and that after she reported the incident, she was kicked off the ladder at Fox and kept from employment opportunities.
The alleged assault took place in 2013, and it was late last year that Hughes filed the lawsuit Pauley ruled on Tuesday against Fox. The Hollywood Reporter described her suit as “wide-ranging,” and while Judge Pauley did not allow for every one of Hughes’ claims to proceed to be tested on legal grounds, he did keep the core of the suit intact.
Among the claims that Pauley ruled against was a claim from Hughes that the incident essentially constituted a hate crime perpetrated against her because of her gender. Indeed, hate crimes have proven notoriously difficult to bring convictions over.
As mentioned, though, a core claim from Hughes against Fox was allowed to go forward Tuesday, and the network will have to answer for why it “blacklisted” Hughes after her claims against Payne came to light. As for Payne, he was removed from his show at Fox from July to September of last year after having been cleared by an investigator hired by Fox.
Judge Pauley went after the network in a separate ruling issued Tuesday for attempting to garner evidence against Hughes from men she has allegedly been involved with in the past. The claim from the company is that she has a history of supposedly manipulating men in an attempt to get ahead in her career.
Judge Pauley wasn’t impressed.
‘Injecting this case with Hughes’ rendezvous with non-parties who have no connection to the subject matter of this litigation will only detract the parties — and later, a jury — from the real issues underlying Hughes’ grievance. Defendants’ purported strategy is superficially appealing, but advances a boorish, reductive narrative that Hughes was predisposed to engaging in self-serving sexual relationships.’
Fox has a historical sexual misconduct problem outside of this situation and the one with Ailes; for instance, longtime host Bill O’Reilly lost his show in the wake of sexual harassment claims coming to light against him.
Fox initially renewed his contract even though the network knew privately of the claims against him.
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