‘Absolute hell’

Fox News commentator sues network saying she was raped by host

Scottie Nell Hughes. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

Scottie Nell Hughes, a Fox News contributor, has filed a lawsuit against the network, claiming that she was raped by anchor Charles Payne and then shunned when she came forward about the alleged assault.

According to a report in The New York Times, the lawsuit alleges that Payne, the host of “Making Money” on Fox Business, “pressured” his way into Hughes’ hotel room in 2013 and coerced her into having sexual intercourse. She reportedly told him “no” and “stop.”

The suit claims that Hughes was forced to continue the sexual relationship with Payne, who helped advance her career in exchange.

Hughes says she was blacklisted by the network when she reported the alleged assault in June. She also asserts that Fox leaked a story to the media about a romantic affair between Hughes and Payne when they learned about her complaints.

The lawsuit alleges gender motivated violence, gender discrimination, retaliation, and defamation.

“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Hughes told the Times. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”

Fox Business host Charles Payne. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Payne was suspended in July while an investigation into his conduct has been ongoing, but he returned to the network this month. Both Payne and Fox News have denied Hughes’ allegations.

“We are confident that when the evidence is presented in this case, Mr. Payne will be fully vindicated and these outrageous accusations against him will be confirmed as completely false,” Jonathan N. Halpern, Payne’s lawyer said.

Fox News called the lawsuit “bogus” and “downright shameful.”

The network has been plagued by allegations of sexual impropriety over the past year, with women accusing high-ranking players like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly of harassment.

Last week at the Women in the World Canada Summit, attorney Lisa Bloom, who orchestrated the legal and media strategy that helped Bill O’Reilly’s accusers bring about his ouster from the network discussed what it took to finally cause O’Reilly, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times over the years, to pay a price. “I knew since 2004 that he [Bill O’Reilly] was a sexual harasser, and I was shocked to learn in 2016 that he was still at it,” Bloom told the audience. Watch the full interview below with her and others who have stood up to systemic sexism.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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