Wendy Walsh says Bill O'Reilly 'became hostile' after she rebuffed his alleged sexual advances
The former Fox News guest is speaking out publicly for the first time.
— -- Dr. Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and former Fox News guest, is going public with sexual harassment allegations against Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, claiming that at one point he became "hostile" towards her for refusing his advances.
O’Reilly has been Fox News’ biggest star for nearly 20 years and the host of "The O’Reilly Factor," the most watched news show on cable.
In 2013, Walsh began a Thursday night segment called "Are We Crazy?" on O’Reilly’s show. Soon, she said, she received a dinner invite from him to a hotel restaurant.
"And I thought, ‘Wow, the big boss, wow,’" Walsh said. "He brought it up first as soon as we sat down to dinner, saying, ‘We’d like to make you a contributor.’"
But then after dinner, she said something changed.
"As we walked past the hostess stand at the restaurant, he turned right towards the bedrooms and I turned left towards the bar and he caught up with me and said, ‘No, no, come back to my suite,'" Walsh said.
"I said, ‘Sorry, I can’t do that,’ and then he became hostile," she continued. "All his charming-ness went away and he said the words, ‘You can forget all the business advice I gave you, you’re on your own.’"
Walsh appeared on his show only a few more times. Then, she claims, the executive producer of O'Reilly's show called to tell her the show was taking a break from the segment.
"I’ve been doing sexual harassment cases for 30 years," said Walsh's attorney Lisa Bloom. "What’s going on at Fox News is the worst of any company that I’ve ever been made aware of. "
Bloom said she believes there is a "culture of sexual harassment" at Fox News that "started at the top with Roger Ailes," but his departure "has not done much to remedy the problem."
Walsh’s allegations come on the heels of other sexual harassment allegations from employees against O’Reilly and against the news network involving the former chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes. Walsh said she’s not looking to file a lawsuit and she’s not looking for a settlement from Fox News.
"What makes her statement so powerful is that she’s not looking for a payout," said ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams. "So the argument that O’Reilly and his supporters have been making, which is everyone is looking for a buck, well, apparently, that’s not what she’s looking for."
Walsh’s claims were first reported in a New York Times investigation published over the weekend, which said that five women who accused O’Reilly of harassment were given settlements, totaling roughly $13 million, on the condition of confidentiality. ABC News has not independently verified these claims.
The New York Times reported that O’Reilly personally settled with former Fox Business Channel host Rebecca Gomez Diamond for $1 million. The Times also claimed O’Reilly personally paid a producer, Andrea Mackris, about $9 million. Both parties agreed in the settlement that no wrongdoing whatsoever had occurred.
O’Reilly issued a statement on his website, saying, "Just like other prominent and controversial people, I am vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity."
"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," he said. "I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and so I have to put to rest any controversies to spare my children."
Parent company 21st Century Fox came to O’Reilly’s defense saying, "21st Century Fox takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously. While he denies the merits of these claims, Mr. O’Reilly has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility."
In addition on Monday, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a lawsuit against Fox News claiming Ailes sexually harassed her and that she was demoted after rebuffing his advances.
ABC News obtained an internal Fox News memo from their human resources chief reiterating their policies in light of the recent allegations. It reads, in part, "If any employee has any concerns about behavior in our workplace, I urge you to raise those concerns."
Roginsky and Walsh’s allegations come less than nine months after Ailes was ousted from the network over a sexual harassment scandal. Former "Fox & Friends" anchor Gretchen Carlson received a $20 million settlement and an apology from the network. She claimed Ailes sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances.
“Boy, I hope I’ve helped other women to win,” Carlson told ABC News in a "20/20" interview that aired in November.
Ailes denied the claims in his resignation letter, saying, "I will not allow my presence to become a distraction." At the time Ailes left, O’Reilly and others leaped to his defense. O’Reilly went on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and called Ailes, "The best boss I ever had."
21st Century Fox launched an internal investigation, which turned up at least a dozen women, some of whom have strikingly similar stories. Among them was star anchor Megyn Kelly, who told "Good Morning America" in December that Ailes’ advances "culminated in a physical attempt" to be with her.
"He tried to kiss me three times," Kelly said. "So I rejected that, and when I rejected that, he asked me when my contract was up."
Laurie Luhn, who worked for Ailes for nearly 20 years as a former director of booking for Fox News, told ABC News last year that she too was sexually harassed by him. She said Ailes would ask her to meet him and then ask her to strip down to her underwear and dance for him.
"I went through such hell for so many years," she said. "He would have me get down on my knees and tell me, ‘You know what you are, Laurie. You’re my whore, you’re my sex slave, you’re going to do whatever I tell you to do at any time, you understand that?’"
Luhn said Ailes then instructed her to perform oral sex.
"I didn’t question it," she said. "And that was his big thing, ‘Just don’t ever question anything that I ever ask you to do, Laurie.’
"The minute it happened, I knew that I had been blackmailed," she continued, "Because he did take photos of me and he’d say, 'This is just my little insurance policy.'"
Ailes sent ABC News the following statement in November regarding Luhn’s claims, which reads in part: “Ms. Luhn is someone I once regarded as a friend and a person who I helped for many years. The stories she is telling now are fabrications built on half-truths and outright lies, and I can only assume are opportunistically intended to thrust her back into the limelight at my expense.”
Ailes no longer runs the company, but O’Reilly remains as a Fox News anchor. On Monday, Mercedes-Benz pulled their advertising from O’Reilly’s show in the wake of these new allegations.
"If Bill O’Reilly is in fact guilty of sexual harassment of multiple women, of course he should be fired," Bloom said. "He would be fired in any other company. For some reason, Fox News keeps him. What we have called for today is for there to be an independent investigation into Fox News."
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