In the weeks after Roger Ailes was ousted as the chairman of Fox News in July, amid a sexual harassment scandal, company executives secretly struck an agreement with a longtime on-air personality who had come forward with similar accusations about the network’s top host, Bill O’Reilly.
The employee, Juliet Huddy, had said that Mr. O’Reilly pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011, at a time he exerted significant influence over her career. When she rebuffed his advances, he tried to derail her career, according to a draft of a letter from her lawyers to Fox News that was obtained by The New York Times.
The letter includes allegations that Mr. O’Reilly had called Ms. Huddy repeatedly and that it sometimes sounded like he was masturbating. He invited her to his house on Long Island, tried to kiss her, took her to dinner and the theater, and after asking her to return a key to his hotel room, appeared at the door in his boxer shorts, according to the letter.
In exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, she was paid a sum in the high six figures, according to people briefed on the agreement. The agreement was between Ms. Huddy and 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News. The company and Mr. O’Reilly’s lawyer said her allegations were false.
In January 2011, Mr. O’Reilly invited Ms. Huddy to lunch near his multimillion-dollar home in Manhasset, Long Island, according to the letter. After lunch, he drove her back to his home, where he showed her every room, including his bedroom, and his collection of presidential memorabilia.
“To shock and disgust, as Ms. Huddy was saying goodbye to Mr. O’Reilly, he quickly moved in and kissed her on the lips,” the letter said. “Ms. Huddy was so taken aback and repulsed that she instinctively recoiled and actually fell to the ground. Mr. O’Reilly, looking amused, did not even help Ms. Huddy up.”
The next week, Mr. O’Reilly asked her to join him for dinner at the Harvard Club, followed by a Broadway show, according to the letter and to current and former Fox News employees.
Ms. Huddy was not interested in having a romantic relationship with Mr. O’Reilly but, the letter said, “she felt compelled to comply with Mr. O’Reilly’s request, given that he had total control over her work assignment.”