Conservative commentator Scottie Nell Hughes alleges that she was banned from the Fox network after she reported being raped by Fox Host Charles Payne. The case is scheduled to go to court following Federal Judge William Pauley’s ruling that the case should not be dismissed.
“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne,” Hughes told The New York Times. “In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell.”
Hughes claims that the rape took place in a New York City hotel room in 2013 following promises that Payne would help Hughes’ career in exchange for a sexual relationship. Following the incident, Hughes claims the two of them maintained a relationship for a subsequent 2 years.
As a contributor to Fox, Hughes went unpaid, which Pauley ruled means she “may not be considered under the financial benefit analysis.”
He further elaborated explaining: “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 his opinion.
“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,” he concluded.
Pauley also allowed several allegations of gender bias and retaliation to be heard in the planned trial but dismissed claims of defamation. He also threw out claims of violence and unwanted sexual advances citing insufficient evidence.
Hughes’ lawsuit alleges that after reporting the rape to Fox she was told to consult with Fox’s outside attorneys who suggested a “business solution,” that was later rejected by the network.
The lawsuit also alleges that following the rejection of the “business solution,” “mysteriously, personal emails between Payne and Ms. Hughes that suggested a consensual relationship found their way into the public.”
Payne was suspended from his show on Fox Business in July, but after an internal investigation, he was reinstated in September.
Most crucially, Pauley blocked the subpoenas of four men Fox hoped to inform on Hughes sexual past. In his decision to block the subpoenas Pauley wrote: “injecting this case with Hughes’ rendezvous with non-parties who have no connection to the subject matter of this litigation will only detract the parties — and later, a jury — from the real issues underlying Hughes’s grievance.”
Fox News has fielded a number of allegations of sexual assault and harassment over the past few years. Allegations have been leveled at former hosts Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling as well as former CEO Roger Ailes.