Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Ousted Fox News anchor Ed Henry's workplace misconduct was an 'open secret at the network before he was fired' last month after an ex-staffer filed a lawsuit accusing him of rape, female employees claim

Ousted Fox News anchor Ed Henry's workplace misconduct was allegedly an open secret at the network long before he was fired last month, some current and former female staffers have since claimed. 
Henry was fired last month after former Fox Business producer Jennifer Eckhart filed a federal lawsuit against the network and the anchorman accusing him of raping her in 2017. 
Fox News said at the time of Henry's termination that they 'took swift action' against the anchor as soon as they were informed of Eckhart's allegations by her lawyer on June 25. The cable news network say they retained a law firm to investigate the allegations made by Eckhart before announcing less than a week later that they had fired Henry.
Fox maintains there was no sexual harassment claims made against Henry at the network prior to Eckhart's allegation. 
In interviews with the Daily Beast published on Monday, Eckhart and unnamed female Fox News female staffers, including one who says she had a consensual affair with Henry, have since claimed that his misconduct was an open secret at the network.
Ed Henry
Jennifer Eckhart
Ed Henry (left) was fired last month after former Fox Business producer Jennifer Eckhart (right) filed a federal lawsuit against the network and the anchorman accusing him of raping her in 2017
In interviews with the Daily Beast published on Monday, Eckhart and unnamed female Fox News female staffers have since claimed that Henry's alleged misconduct was an open secret at the network
In interviews with the Daily Beast published on Monday, Eckhart and unnamed female Fox News female staffers have since claimed that Henry's alleged misconduct was an open secret at the network
The female staffers have alleged Henry's reputation and alleged inappropriate workplace behavior was 'well known' at Fox News. 
Eckhart has claimed that she filed a complaint with HR and her supervisor in February this year about working in a toxic environment. She claims she was notified in June that she was going to be fired and then moved forward with plans to sue regarding Henry's alleged conduct. 
Fox has denied ever receiving a sexual harassment complaint from Eckhart about Henry until after she was fired.  
'Jennifer Eckhart never reported any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct to HR and did not reveal anything about Ed Henry until after she was terminated on June 12. She was given a warning in February and a performance improvement plan in early March prior to the June termination and neither of the two meetings she had with HR regarding her performance involved raising any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct complaints,' a Fox News spokesperson said.  
'On the same day that Fox News received Ms Eckhart's complaint about Mr Henry from her lawyer at Wigdor, we retained an outside law firm to independently investigate the matter. On the basis of those investigative findings, Fox News terminated Mr Henry less than one week later.'  
Meanwhile, the employee who claims she had a years-long affair with Henry that ended in March this year told the outlet that she was repeatedly warned about his alleged behavior.  
'I think Fox News was aware of his behavior. His reputation was mixed. While some saw him as friendly and jovial, others believed he could be unpleasant and harsh-natured in the workplace. It was well-known he flirted with younger women in the office. I heard people say, in general, to be careful with him because of his flirtatious nature,' she said. 
'I am unaware of other women who warned upper management about Mr Henry but I have heard stories of women to whom he sent suggestive messages.'  
Henry has been married to his wife Shirley (above) since 2010 and has two children from a previous marriage. His lawyer denied the allegations made by Eckhart in her lawsuit
Henry has been married to his wife Shirley (above) since 2010 and has two children from a previous marriage. His lawyer denied the allegations made by Eckhart in her lawsuit
A former employee, who left the company in 2017 and claims she was sexually assaulted by a Fox correspondent, said Henry's name would often come up among female staffers.
'Fox may be a big company but things get around. Employees talk. I was sure to ask around among my female coworkers. Heck, I even heard it from some males who were aware about names I should stay away from or watch out for,' she said. 
'Ed Henry consistently came up.' 
Former on-air guest Cathy Areu, who jointly filed the lawsuit with Eckhart against Fox, claims she was also warned about Henry's alleged behavior. Areu claimed in the lawsuit that Henry sent her 'a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and videos' and suggested he would assist her career if she had sex with him
Former on-air guest Cathy Areu, who jointly filed the lawsuit with Eckhart against Fox, claims she was also warned about Henry's alleged behavior. Areu claimed in the lawsuit that Henry sent her 'a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and videos' and suggested he would assist her career if she had sex with him
Former on-air guest Cathy Areu, who jointly filed the lawsuit with Eckhart against Fox, claims she was also warned about Henry's alleged behavior. 
Areu was never a paid contributor on Fox but appeared on the network between 2018 and earlier this year.  
'It is hard to imagine that Fox was unaware of the conduct of one of its top hosts, particularly given how rampant his misbehavior was. I was warned about multiple people by multiple people,' Areu said. 
'It was well-known that the way for women to get ahead at Fox was to submit to the overtures of the male hosts. I never did, which is likely why my tenure at Fox came to an abrupt end.' 
Areu claimed in the lawsuit that Henry sent her 'a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and videos' and suggested he would assist her career if she had sex with him. 
She also alleges in the lawsuit that Fox News anchors Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, host Howard Kurtz and political analyst Gianno Caldwell sexually harassed and retaliated against her.
Fox filed a sanctions motion on Friday claiming Areu, who is no longer being represented by the same Wigdor law firm as Eckhart, made false allegations of sexual misconduct against Carlon, Hannity and Kurtz. 
In response to Areu's recent comments, a Fox News spokesperson said: 'Cathy Areu's allegation that women are not treated equally at Fox News is provably false and yet another malicious attempt to smear the network with meritless claims. In fact, Fox News has provided more leadership opportunities for women than any other cable news network, including featuring more solo women anchors and hosts on-air and retaining a senior staff comprised of more than 50% female executives. We are proud of our track record in elevating women and remain dedicated to continuing our efforts in providing an equal and inclusive workplace for all of our employees.    
The lawsuit includes a string of WhatsApp messages Henry, 49, allegedly sent to Eckhart in which he calls her his 'little w***e' and refers to their relationship in graphic terms
The complaint includes a string of WhatsApp messages that Henry allegedly sent to Eckhart in which he calls her his 'little w***e' and refers to their relationship in disturbingly graphic terms 
'Good long session last time. Left you bruised batter dazed sated begging for more,' Henry wrote in one message
'Good long session last time. Left you bruised batter dazed sated begging for more,' he wrote in one message. Another states: 'When u r owned u don't get a choice.' 
Fox reporter Ed Henry questions WH's Earnest in 2015 video
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'Furthermore, as revealed in public filings and during a court hearing in the Areu matter on Friday, Wigdor LLP has dropped Ms Areu as a client following FOX News' service of a sanctions motion on Ms Areu and the Wigdor firm arguing that they engaged in serious misconduct by making patently false allegations of sexual misconduct against Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Howard Kurtz. 
'Wigdor's and Ms Areu's allegations are contradicted by e-mails and text messages within Ms Areu's own possession, which demonstrate that she knew her claims to be false and that Wigdor either knew the same or should have known through the most basic investigation instead of issuing a sensationalized press release on these false allegations.'    
When the lawsuit was filed, Henry's lawyer Catherine Foti denied the allegations made against him. 
The lawsuit includes Eckhart's claims that Henry allegedly handcuffed her and raped her in a hotel room in 2017 after trying to coerce her into a sexual relationship.
The complaint includes a string of WhatsApp messages that Henry allegedly sent to Eckhart in which he calls her his 'little w***e' and refers to their relationship in disturbingly graphic terms. 
'Good long session last time. Left you bruised batter dazed sated begging for more,' he wrote in one message. Another states: 'When u r owned u don't get a choice.' 
Henry's lawyer said at the time the lawsuit was filed that Eckhart 'initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship' with the anchor, who has been married to his wife Shirley since 2010 and has two children from a previous marriage.
Foti said Henry is in possession of evidence that will contradict Eckhart's 'fictional accounts' - including 'graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications' that she sent to him. 
Henry has not yet released such photos or communications and his lawyer has said they will not do so until the case is in court. 

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