firstname.lastname@example.org (Kelsey Vlamis)
- Laura Luhn has accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexually assaulting her for years.
- Luhn filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging Fox News enabled and covered up the abuse.
- In a statement to Insider, Fox called the allegations against the network “baseless.”
A former Fox News employee who accused Roger Ailes of sexually assaulting her for years filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the network, alleging he enabled and covered up the abuse.
Laura Luhn, who worked as a booker for Fox, first presented allegations against Ailes, the former CEO and chairman of Fox News, in 2016 after other accusations against Ailes surfaced. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York state details the alleged abuse as well as efforts to silence and intimidate her.
“Ailes’ abuse of Luhn was among the worst he inflicted on his many victims,” the lawsuit said, adding, “He physically forced Luhn to perform oral sex on him on a regular basis. And he constantly reminded Luhn that he ‘owned’ her, that she was his ‘sex slave’, and that he was forbidden from telling anyone about the abuse or he would make her pay dearly.”
The lawsuit also accused Ailes of “blackmailing” Luhn with photos and recordings he made of their encounters: “Throughout this, Ailes held the photographs and videos he had of Luhn above out of his head, repeatedly describing them as his “insurance policy”. ‘, telling Luhn that he kept them in a safe and reminding Luhn of his ‘demand for loyalty’ and the fact that he ‘owned’ her.”
The lawsuit named Fox News, Twenty-First Century Fox and William Shine, a former Fox News executive who also had a brief stint in the Trump White House. He accuses Fox News of “directly enabling” and “actively covering up” the abuses and alleges that company executives knew about the abuses by Ailes and others but “did nothing to stop them.” instead engaging in “coordinated public smear campaigns” against the victims. .
Luhn wrote a letter to Fox’s general counsel in 2011 detailing his allegations against Ailes, eventually settling with the network to receive his salary until retirement age of $250,000 for 12 years, according to Wednesday’s lawsuit, which claimed Fox withheld 30% of the payments as if they were wages. New York magazine previously reported that the settlement involved elaborate nondisclosure provisions and prohibited Luhn from taking legal action against Fox or speaking to government authorities such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the FBI.
When contacted by Insider on Wednesday, Fox News said in a statement, “This matter was settled years ago, dismissed in subsequent litigation, and is without merit.”
Among the charges over the network’s handling of the alleged abuse, the lawsuit said Fox News agents would say Ailes was “just having a rough time” or “boys will be boys.” Luhn said that when she said she was groped by “a well-known political analyst” who appeared regularly on Fox, she was also told that “boys will be boys. Bill Clinton is the same way.”
The years of abuse Luhn suffered caused her to have a ‘mental breakdown’ and she is still ‘unable to function normally in day-to-day life’, with frequent flashbacks of the abuse, according to the lawsuit. .
In a statement provided to Insider, Barbara Whiten Balliette, Luhn’s attorney and partner at Reid Collins & Tsai LLP, said: “This case is about finally getting justice for Ms. Luhn. The sexual abuse she suffered while she was worked at Fox News was among the worst imaginable.This abuse went on for years and was known to some of the most powerful people at Fox News, but no one stepped in to help or stop what was happening to Ms. Luhn.
She also acknowledged the Adult Survivors Actwhich was signed in 2022 and created a one-year window for sexual assault survivors to sue their attackers regardless of the statute of limitations.
“New York’s Adult Survivors Act recognizes the lifelong trauma victims of sexual abuse can experience. Its look-back window recognizes that harm and empowers survivors like Ms. Luhn to right wrongs exactly like these,” said Balliette.
Luhn is one of many women who have accused Ailes of sexual assault or harassment, including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. Ailes resigned from Fox in 2016 while continuing to deny the allegations, and deceased the next year.