Lawyers for a woman who has accused former Fox News anchor Ed Henry of rape allege the network knew about prior incidents of sexual misconduct.
Jennifer Eckhart is suing Fox News and the axed co-host of the network’s “America’s Newsroom,” who was fired over the allegations last summer.
“As Fox News was well aware, Mr. Henry had a long history of sexual misconduct involving women, and particularly female employees,” wrote her attorney Douglas Wigdor in an amended complaint filed Monday in Manhattan federal court. “And contrary to Fox News’ claims, far from punishing Mr. Henry for his vile misconduct, Fox News has repeatedly rewarded him with a series of promotions that only increased his prominence.”
The papers state that Henry was suspended for four months after the married father of two had an affair with a Las Vegas stripper in 2016. He was allegedly required to complete a sex addiction rehabilitation program before he returned to work, the filing says.
Lawyers for Fox News have argued in prior filings that Eckhart, who worked for Fox Business, didn’t report the allegations to the network until after she was fired and it had no knowledge that Henry had behaved inappropriately toward her. Lawyers for Fox have asked a judge to toss Eckhart’s claims against the company.
Eckhart alleges that Henry handcuffed, beat and raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2017.
Henry’s lawyer, Catherine Foti, has countered in court papers that Eckhart was a “willing, consenting and enthusiastic participant in their relationship” sending him images of her “naked breasts, photos of buttocks in a thong, and closeups of her vagina” before and after the alleged rape.
A Fox News spokesperson said that the company took swift action as soon as it learned of the allegations.
“While we take even anonymous accounts of wrongdoing seriously as we learn of them, the fact remains that there were no sexual harassment claims against Ed Henry at Fox News prior to Jennifer Eckhart’s claim on June 25, 2020,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Upon first learning of the allegations, we promptly commenced an independent investigation and took immediate action, firing Mr. Henry within six days of the notification on July 1, 2020. Fox News takes all claims of harassment, misconduct and retaliation extremely seriously and maintains a zero tolerance policy that is strictly enforced throughout the company which is why Mr. Henry was fired within days of Ms. Eckhart’s complaint.”