Fox News Lawsuit Alleges Rape, 'Sex Slavery' Forced Upon Female Reporter, TV Guest

Allegations of rape and demands for a producer to become a "sex slave" are detailed in a complaint filed against Fox News Monday in New York federal court.

A former Fox Business associate producer and a frequent TV guest are plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit which accuses primetime hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Howard Kurtz and recently fired Ed Henry as perpetrators of sexual harassment, misconduct and rape. Jennifer Eckhart, a former reporter who started with the network at 24, accuses Henry of "grooming" her for years before forcing her to perform oral sex on him in the office and raping her in a hotel room as she was restrained in metal handcuffs.

The complaint accuses Henry of committing several "sadistic" sexual acts in Fox's midtown Manhattan office, and goes on to name Hannity, Carlson and others as complicit in enforcing a culture of sexual quid-pro-quo exchanges and ensuing threats of retaliation. The sex trafficking, harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed this week repeatedly states that the cable network's violent sexual environment did not change with the death of Roger Ailes in 2017.

Update: A Fox News spokesperson issued a statement Monday describing how an independent investigation conducted into the allegations found many of the claims to be outright "false." But the statement notes the company already took action against Henry by firing him in late June and the plaintiffs were encouraged of their right to pursue legal action against him personally.

Fox issued the following statement: "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. We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations. Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart's claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network."

"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," the jury trial action alleges. "Some of the names in leadership may have changed ... but Fox News' institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not."

"Mr. Henry not only leveraged this imbalance of power for control over his victim, Ms. Eckhart, but asked her to be his 'sex slave' and his 'little whore,' and threatened punishment and retaliation if she did not comply with his sexual demands," reads the complaint.

The complaint alleges several instances of the network's top on-air hosts, most of whom are married or have children, setting up late-night hotel rendezvous or forcing women in the office to stay late in exchange for TV appearances. In perhaps the most graphic and brutal anecdotes laid out in the lawsuit, Eckhart describes what allegedly happened in September 2015 after she rejected his sexual advances and tried to catch a cab from Henry's midtown office to a live broadcast at the New York Stock Exchange.

"Rather than letting Ms. Eckhart leave, Henry got off the phone and pinned her to the wall inside the Guest Office. He subjected her to forceful and unwanted kissing. He then quickly unzipped his pants and used his hand to force Ms. Eckhart'd head down to his penis while forcefully moving Ms. Eckhart's head back and forth and forced her to perform oral sex on him. After Mr. Henry came, Ms. Eckhart immediately ran out of the office in a state of shock, panic and fear."

A separate September 2015 incident alleges: "In a [text] message, Mr. Henry demanded Ms. Eckhart remove her underwear while at work at Fox News, and put them in an envelope for him."

Henry was fired late last month after an internal company investigation into "willful sexual misconduct in the workplace."

In its statement, the network called the allegations from Eckhart and former guest Cathy Areu "patently frivolous" and "false."

"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," a spokesperson told Deadline Monday.

The Fox News response statement rejecting the accusations continues: "We take all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation seriously, promptly investigating them and taking immediate action as needed — in this case, the appropriate action based on our investigation is to defend vigorously against these baseless allegations," the statement continues. "Ms. Areu and Jennifer Eckhart can pursue their claims against Ed Henry directly with him, as FOX News already took swift action as soon as it learned of Ms. Eckhart's claims on June 25 and Mr. Henry is no longer employed by the network."

Newsweek reached out to the network for any updated reactions to the lawsuit but they did not respond before publication.

fox news building
Fox News latest sexual assault allegations filed in New York Federal court this week. Kevin Hagen/Getty
Fox News Lawsuit Alleges Rape, 'Sex Slavery' Forced Upon Female Reporter, TV Guest | News