Former Fox News personality Jennifer Eckhart has filed a lawsuit accusing former America’s Newsroom host Ed Henry of violent sexual assault and rape, while co-plaintiff and frequent Fox News guest Cathy Areu leveled harassment allegations against several current hosts including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Howard Kurtz.
In the complaint, Eckhart alleges that Henry—who was fired earlier this month for “willful sexual misconduct”—raped and assaulted her, performing “sadistic acts on her without her consent that left her injured, bruised and battered with bloody wrists.” From Business Insider:
According to the complaint, Eckhart alleged that Henry, who is married, “groomed, psychologically manipulated and coerced” her into a sexual relationship in which he referred to her as his “sex slave.” Additionally, the lawsuit claimed, “when she would not comply voluntarily, [Henry] sexually assaulted her on office property, and raped her at a hotel where Fox News frequently lodged its visiting employees.”
Henry first targeted Eckhart in 2014, after Henry messaged her on Twitter. From there, the complaint says, “Ms. Eckhart became a sexual target of Mr. Henry,” with him sending inappropriate, flirtatious and, at times, sexually graphic text messages” after they met at Fox’s New York offices. After a meeting at a hotel, where they met to discuss career prospects, Eckhart said she relented to Henry’s advances, “fearing that her career would be over if she refused Mr. Henry.”
Though Henry had already been fired, his lawyer, Catherine Foti, said in a statement that the allegations against her client were “fictional,” saying: “The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Ms. Eckhart initiated and completely encouraged a consensual relationship. Ed Henry looks forward to presenting actual facts and evidence.”
Areu, for her part, alleged that in addition to being sexually harassed by Henry, she was also harassed by several other prominent hosts. From the New York Times:
Ms. Areu, who was a frequent guest on Fox News shows but not employed by the network, said in the lawsuit that Mr. Hannity, on set in 2018, urged male members of his crew to take her on a date and referred to her as “a beautiful woman.” She said that Mr. Carlson, after she appeared on his show in 2018, told Ms. Areu that he was staying alone in a Manhattan hotel without his family. She said that Mr. Kurtz, in 2019, invited her to meet him in the lobby of his hotel and was miffed when she declined.
Areu asserted that in all three instances, she suffered career repercussions, and was rarely invited to appear on the hosts’ programs after refusing them. Both women are seeking damages against Fox News and the defendants.