A federal judge ruled against Fox News on Tuesday after they attempted to squash a lawsuit by former guest Scottie Nell Hughes, who claimed that she was banned from Fox after she reported that she was raped by Fox Business host Charles Payne.
Hughes first brought the suit against Fox News in September 2017 in which she alleged that Paynes had forced himself upon her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.
In response, she claimed that Fox News tried to sweep the situation under the rug by blacklisting her from appearing on any of their networks shows.
“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Hughes reported in September. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”
According to her statements, Hughes was promised opportunities in the network if she engaged in sexual relations with Payne. Hughes claims that after the rape, the relationship lasted for two more years.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III struck down an attempt by the parent company of Fox News, 21st Century Fox, to silence Hughes by stopping her lawsuit from being heard in court.
Judge Pauley stated in his opinion that since Hughes wasn’t a paid guest, she “may not be considered under the financial benefit analysis.”
“If such allegations were deemed a financial benefit for purposes of determining employee status, virtually every commentator on a national television network could satisfy the remuneration requirement,” Pauley wrote. “In any event, an incidental benefit of appearing on a nationally televised program is widespread publicity and name recognition, and may not be considered under the financial benefit analysis.”
Fox News has, of course, labeled the lawsuit a “publicity stunt.”
“The latest publicity stunt of a lawsuit filed by Doug Wigdor has absolutely no merit and is downright shameful. We will vigorously defend this,” a Fox News spokesperson said last year.
“It’s worth noting that Doug is Ms. Hughes’ third representative in the last six months to raise some variation of these claims which concern events from four years ago, since it apparently took some time to find someone willing to file this bogus case,” the spokesperson added.
H/T: The Hill