Fox News has been hit with another lawsuit stemming from a series of sexual harassment scandals, but this time the lawsuit comes a former executive accused of sexual assault. Former Fox News Latino vice president Francisco Cortes, who filed the $48 million lawsuit against 20th Century Fox in New York federal court on Tuesday, claims that he was used as “a useful ‘scapegoat’ for Fox to demonstrate that it aggressively handles sexual harassment complaints.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the suit stems from February’s settlement with contributor Tamara Holder, who alleged that Cortes tried to coerce her to perform oral sex on him in his office in 2015. Cortes claims in the suit that he can prove the relationship was consensual via emails, text messages, and other “supporting documentation.”
Cortes, who was fired in October, also claims that two other individuals signed the settlement but have not been named publicly. He says that Holder and Fox violated a mutual non-disparagement provision when they spoke about the settlement to the New York Times in March.
The terms of the settlement forced him to “remain silent against the allegations, which he vehemently denies,” as part of “an intentional and well orchestrated plan” by the Murdoch family as they sought to acquire the UK’s Sky News without incident, and “protect the identity and shelter the reputations of the two unknown persons” at Fox, the complaint alleges.
“These two unknown persons, it must be assumed, were, unlike Mr. Cortes, not Latino, not financially insignificant to FOX, and not without some utility to Tamara Holder’s career if she would only agree to continue to protect them and shield their reputations from the damage necessarily incurred by accusations of sexual harassment,” the complaint reads.
Variety reports that Cortes is suing over “breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy to defraud, tortious interference and various counts of defamation.”
Update 10 AM, 7/26: Fox News emailed Jezebel the following statement: “The allegations in this lawsuit are frivolous and without merit.”