In a shocking scandal for the Fox News channel's highest rated commentator, Bill O'Reilly has reportedly been accused of harassment by at least five female employees.
The Saturday article said Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, Andrea Mackris, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, Laurie Dhue, and Juliet Huddy, who all either worked on his show The O'Reilly Factor or regularly appeared on it, agreed not to speak out against him or pursue legal action in exchange for the settlements.
Also, two other women, Wendy Walsh, a regular on his show, and Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News host, have accused O'Reilly of bad behavior.
But O'Reilly, who has been on top of cable TV news for years, and is known for his determined tagline, "The spin stops here," has vehemently denied the claims.
In a statement, O'Reilly said that his job made him "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity." O'Reilly claimed he settled with them for the sake of his children.
In the statement, O'Reilly also wrote that "in my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline."
But the explosive New York Times piece is causing shock waves, especially after Roger Ailes resigned last summer as Fox News' chief executive after sexual harassment allegations surfaced against him.
According to the new report on O'Reilly, the women allegedly complained about his unwanted advances, invitations to hotel suites, lewd comments or verbal abuse.
O'Reilly allegedly screamed at producer Rachel Witlieb Bernstein in 2002, according to witnesses, said the Times. She reportedly left the network with an undisclosed settlement.
According to a 2004 lawsuit unearthed by the Times, Mackris, who worked as a producer on his show, said O'Reilly called her while he was masturbating and described his sexual fantasies with her.
According to the legal papers, he told Mackris to buy a vibrator before "it became apparent that Defendant was masturbating as he spoke. After he climaxed, Defendant O'Reilly said to the Plaintiff: 'I appreciate the fun phone call...."'
Mackris reportedly settled with O'Reilly for $9 million dollars and a public statement that asserted there was "no wrongdoing whatsoever," the Times reported.
In 2011, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, who had hosted a show on the Fox Business Network, was told the network was not renewing her contract. She reportedly went to the company with recorded conversations she'd had with O'Reilly. She settled with O'Reilly for an undisclosed sum.
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Last year, The New York Times stated, Fox News also made deals with Laurie Dhue and Juliet Huddy for more than $1 million each.
Huddy complained about alleged inappropriate phone calls with O'Reilly—and her lawyers said she once fell to the ground while she was pulled away from an unwanted kiss.
Walsh and Tantaros did NOT receive pay outs, and Tantaros is currently in a legal battle with Fox News and former chief Ailes—not O'Reilly.
Although she's not battling O'Reilly in court, former "The Five" show fill-in Tantaros said he invited her to a "very private" stay with him on Long Island, and made comments about seeing her as "a wild girl," according to her lawsuit against the network and Ailes.
21st Century Fox issued a statement standing behind O'Reilly, stating, "Notwithstanding the fact that no current or former Fox News employee ever took advantage of the 21st Century Fox hotline to raise a concern about Bill O'Reilly, even anonymously, we have looked into these matters over the last few months and discussed them with Mr. O'Reilly.
"While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O'Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility.
"Mr. O'Reilly is fully committed to supporting our efforts to improve the environment for all our employees at Fox News."
In his statement, OReilly said, "The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel.
"Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me."
O'Reilly's attorney said in a statement Friday evening, "We are now seriously considering legal action to defend Mr. O'Reilly's reputation."
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