Political media personality Scottie Nell Hughes has filed a lawsuit against Fox News this week, claiming the company ignored her complaint that she was sexually assaulted and raped. In addition, she says Fox News leaked her name to the National Enquirer.
In a suit filed Monday in federal court in New York, Hughes claims that when she told Fox News she was sexually assaulted by Fox Business News anchor Charles Payne, the company retaliated by having spokeswoman Irena Briganti leak her name to the National Enquirer.
“Despicably, Fox leaked Ms. Hughes’s identity to the National Enquirer at the same time that it emailed a self-serving ‘statement,’ purportedly drafted by Payne, that expressed his sorrow at having engaged in what he described as an affair with Ms. Hughes,” according to the suit.
Briganti, who was named in the lawsuit, declined to comment.
Fox News brushed off the suit as “bogus” in a statement.
“The latest publicity stunt of a lawsuit filed by Doug Wigdor has absolutely no merit and is downright shameful. We will vigorously defend this,” Fox News said.
Wigdor, Hughes’ attorney, said, “FOX can’t wriggle out of this one.”
“Regardless of the fact that the sexual assault and rape, as alleged, happened in 2013, the events exposing FOX’s liability exposure (as opposed to Payne) occurred less than 2 months ago when FOX executives at the highest levels leaked Ms. Hughes’s name to a tabloid,” Wigdor said.
Payne’s lawyer, Jonathen Halpern, said his client denies any wrongdoing.
“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,” Halpern said.
Payne returned to Fox Business this month after being suspended since July for “professional misconduct” after Hughes’ allegations.
Three Fox News stalwarts, the late CEO Roger Ailes and conservative personalities Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, were forced to leave the company in recent years due to sexual harassment allegations.
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