In July, Ex-Fox Host Ed Henry Was Accused In A Lawsuit Of Being A Sexual Sadist
PEOPLE magazine reported earlier this year that in a lawsuit filed on July 20, two women came forward with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against former Fox News America’s Newsroom co-host Ed Henry.
- Jennifer Eckhart joined Fox News as a freelance administrative assistant in 2013, Hollywood Life reports, while Henry was there.
- In the filing, Eckhart’s attorney alleges that Henry began “exerting his abuse and power over her and her career” when she was only 24-years-old.
- According to the filing, Henry asked Eckhart to be his “sex slave” and “threatened punishment and retaliation if [Eckhart] didn't comply with his sexual demands.”
At its most graphic, the filing states,
Ms. Eckhart was violently raped while helpless and restrained in metal handcuffs, as Mr. Henry performed sadistic acts on her without her consent that left her injured, bruised and battered with bloody wrists.
- Additionally, Eckhart’s attorney asserts that Henry “took photos of Ms. Eckhart” in order to have “blackmail that could destroy her career.”
- In the filing, Eckhart’s lawyer also avers that Fox News was aware of this misconduct as early as 2017, when Eckhart and several other women reported Henry at a time “when Fox News was conducting a company-wide investigation into issues of sexual harassment.”
- However, Henry received no termination or even discipline at the time.
- Henry was not terminated as an employee until July 1, 2020. The filing explains that Eckhart informed Fox News that she was retaining counsel “in connection with legal claims against Mr. Henry and Fox News” on June 25.
Another journalist, Cathy Areu, has also leveled accusations of sexual misconduct against Henry.
- Areu has appeared as a guest on the Fox News network.
- In court documents, Areu’s attorney states that Henry sent Areu “a slew of wildly inappropriate sexual images and messages—which are in her possession.”
- Per the allegations, the images and messages included nude photographs, videos of women performing sexual acts, and “inappropriate texts… suggesting that Ms. Areu have sex with him.”
In a statement issued to PEOPLE, Fox News denies any culpability and claims that there were no accusations against Henry before June 25. The statement also reads,
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. Aeru 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.
Henry has flatly denied the accusations. On July 20, he Tweeted, “I will fight with every fiber of my being.” He attached to the Tweet a statement from his attorney, Catherine Foti:
The Me Too movement has helped to bring to light a number of injustices in our society, and everyone that has suffered deserves to be heard. This is not one of those cases. 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, which will contradict the fictional accounts contained in the complaint. That evidence includes graphic photos and other aggressively suggestive communications that Ms. Eckhart sent to Mr. Henry.
On Oct. 19, Henry's lawyers filed two motions to have the parts of the lawsuit that apply to him dismissed, arguing the claims are "malicious and defamatory," according to USA Today. The former Fox News host also asserted that "Eckhart pursued him by sending him come-hither text messages."
Eckhart fired back in a statement to USA TODAY late Monday. “Rape is rape, and can never be 'justified' or 'excused,' " she said. "No man is entitled to violently rape a woman because she sent him consensual looking text messages."
Eckhart said that some of the photographs submitted in Henry's filing "are not even of me. My abuser’s continuing attempt to intimidate and bully me into silence reveals his toxic and predatory mindset."
She continued: "These are the same degrading tactics he used to try to silence me when I was an employee at Fox News, and the reason I and so many women stay silent for so long is because we fear these types of horrific attacks. But, I am no longer afraid of him."