Saturday, October 21, 2017
Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation with a network contributor for $32 million -- the largest, by far, of six such agreements that eventually toppled the outspoken commentator, according to a new report.
The New York Times said Bill O'Reilly agreed to the settlement in January with Lis Wiehl, a longtime legal analyst at Fox who had worked with O'Reilly and had once offered him legal advice.
Despite knowledge of a settlement with Wiehl, Fox renewed its contract with O'Reilly in February, paying him $25 million per year over four years, the paper said.
In a brief interview on Saturday following publication of the Times story, O'Reilly declined to discuss details of the settlement with Wiehl, citing a confidentiality agreement. But he said he agreed to settle "to protect my children from the horror" of continuing adverse publicity had Wiehl's allegations been litigated in court.
"That's it," O'Reilly said. "I knew if I took this to court there would be three years of unrelenting headlines. That's why I did it."
Fabiani said 21st Century had paid out "close to $100 million" to "dozens of women" who had alleged harassment by other men at the network. Fox re-signed O'Reilly earlier this year, he wrote, "after the company had analyzed and considered all the allegations against him."
If the Times's figure is accurate, the latest settlement exceeds all of the previous agreements between O'Reilly and his accusers.
The five agreements reportedly amounted to $13 million, and included a 2004 payment by O'Reilly to a former Fox producer named Andrea Mackris for $9 million.
O'Reilly personally paid two of these five settlements. Fox News paid the other three.
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