A former Fox News employee has filed a lawsuit against the outlet, alleging that she was subjected to sexual and psychological abuse for decades at the hands of former network head Roger Ailes, while claiming inaction from the corporate leadership.
Laura Luhn, 62, started working with Fox in 1996. The lawsuit (pdf) was filed on Wednesday in a state court in New York against Fox News Network, its parent company 21st Century Fox, and former executive Bill Shine. The complaint alleges Ailes to have used his position as the Fox News head to “trap” Laura into a “decades-long cycle of sexual abuse.”
Back in 2019, Fox News defeated Luhn’s $120 million lawsuit alleging that she was defamed by the network’s then-CEO Suzanne Scott, who denied knowing about Ailes’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Luhn’s recent lawsuit cites 18 instances of Ailes forcing himself on her in hotel rooms. It also blames Shine for having “aided and abetted” Ailes’s alleged actions.
“Now, with the passage of New York’s Adult Survivor’s Act, Luhn brings this lawsuit to finally receive compensation for all of the physical, mental, emotional, and professional harm she suffered and continues to suffer because of the severe sexual abuse at the hands of Ailes, Fox News, and its corporate enablers,” the lawsuit states.
New York’s Adult Survivors Act, signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul last May, allows survivors of sexual offenses to file a lawsuit irrespective of when the abuse occurred provided that the incident happened when the victims were over 18 years of age.
According to the lawsuit, Ailes is said to have photographed and videographed Luhn in “compromising positions.” Ailes called this “blackmail material” his “insurance policy” and allegedly threatened Luhn that attempts to stop or speak out against the abuse would result in “severe personal humiliation and career ruin.”
The lawsuit blames Fox News’ corporate leadership, including Shine, as well as its parent company for knowing about Ailes’ conduct and “yet did nothing to stop it.” Fox News executives are also accused of engaging in “coordinated public smear campaigns” against other alleged sexual abuse victims, with these campaigns acting to ensure the “silence” of Luhn and other victims.
“In the period when Ailes was abusing her, Luhn had a front-row seat to the very public intimidation campaign that Fox News waged against another victim after she lodged disturbing allegations against Fox News star, Bill O’Reilly,” the lawsuit states.
“In private conversations with Luhn, Ailes explicitly reinforced the message that this public campaign was designed to convey to Luhn and other would-be accusers: come forward at your own peril.”
Mental Breakdown, 2019 Lawsuit
After years of abuse, Luhn suffered a mental breakdown, the complaint states. During this period, Shine is said to have taken charge of Luhn’s personal life and ensured her “public silence about the sexual abuse.”
“These efforts ultimately included having Luhn sign a ‘release’ of her claims. With the fear of Ailes or Fox News spreading compromising photographs and videos, and with the knowledge of the aggressive personal attacks against other Fox News accusers, Luhn capitulated, receiving a severance equal only to payment for her wages until retirement age.”
Luhn’s earlier 2019 lawsuit against Fox and its CEO, Suzanne Scott, was dismissed by the court after the network filed a motion to dismiss it. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Scott had said that she had “no clue” what was going on in Ailes’s office, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Luhn insisted that Scott’s denial about Ailes’s alleged sexual misconduct implied that she had fabricated the sexual abuse allegations, resulting in the lawsuit.
In August 2019, Fox News filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to state a claim. The judge sided with the defendant, noting that Scott’s statements from her interview with the Los Angeles Times did not reference Luhn.
Regarding the latest lawsuit, Fox News Media said in a statement that “this matter was settled years ago, dismissed in subsequent litigation, and is meritless,” according to a Jan. 26 tweet by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Fox News for comment.