Former Fox News employee Laura Luhn sued Fox News and its former president, Bill Shine, with very disturbing allegations of sexual abuse by former chairman Roger Ailes.
From NPR’s David Folkenflik:
Former Fox News staffer Laura Luhn helped seal the late Roger Ailes' reputation after his resignation as the network's chairman in July 2016 when she publicly alleged that he had sexually abused her for two decades and blackmailed her into becoming his "sex slave."
On [January 25, 2023), Luhn filed suit in a New York state court against Fox News, its parent company, and former Fox News president Bill Shine, saying the network was complicit in controlling her personal life and blaming the abuse for the psychological and physical toll she has suffered since.
Folkenflik notes that Luhn’s accusations tracks those made in a July 29, 2016 New York Magazine article.
Warning: The complaint contains very disturbing descriptions of alleged sexual misconduct by Roger Ailes. For example:
45. The typical sexual encounters between Ailes and Luhn largely resembled the first one. Ailes would sit in an armchair and bark commands like, “bring an envelope to make it look like you’re on official business” or, “come here and show me what you can do.” He would also shove Luhn’s head into his crotch and yell, “What are you, Laurie? Go on, say it. Tell me what you are! Are you my wh*re? Are you my sex slave? Are you loyal? Can I depend on you, Laurie?”
46.Ailes left no room for doubt that he viewed these forced acts as a quid pro quo for Luhn’s promotions and career advancement at Fox News. At one point after promoting Luhn to Manager of Booking in June 2004, Ailes demanded, “Now, remember, you’re Doris Day. Go put your uniform on, get over to the DoubleTree and thank me for this.” Ailes expected Luhn to stay silent and endure the abuse. He explicitly told her that she could not show any hesitation, either in her reaction or her tone of voice; otherwise, she would risk losing everything.
47. Over the years, the sexual abuse generally followed the same or similar patterns. Sometimes Ailes would touch himself while Luhn would dance; other times he would grab her breasts as he masturbated.
48. Usually, he would have her perform oral sex on him, telling her, “Get in there. Lick my b*lls,” and ejaculating into her mouth. Ailes would forcefully touch Luhn’s breasts and v*gina during these encounters, including digital penetration
(Note: asterisks added to avoid getting flagged by our advertisers)
Paragraphs 55 and 56 of the complaint alleges that Ailes forced Luhn to engage in sadomasochistic sex with Ailes and another woman at least five times between 2002 and 2005. I'm not repeating them here.
Paragraph 3: Luhn faced the Hobson’s choice between remaining silent at Fox News and taking what career breadcrumbs Ailes might offer or leaving the network and facing recriminations and blackmail. Eventually, the years of abuse led to Luhn suffering a mental breakdown. During the breakdown—of which Fox News was well aware—Ailes’s hatchet man, Defendant Shine, took it upon himself to control Luhn’s personal life, manage her medical care, and ensure her public silence about the sexual abuse. These efforts ultimately included having Luhn sign a “release” of her claims. With the fear of Ailes or Fox News spreading compromising photographs and videos, and with the knowledge of the aggressive personal attacks against other Fox News accusers, Luhn capitulated, receiving a severance equal only to payment for her wages until retirement age.
While reading through the complaint, I also caught this little nugget that implicates Brit Hume’s wife as an enabler of the sexual abuse:
43. Even though Luhn worked in the Washington, D.C. bureau of Fox News, Ailes regularly called Luhn to New York for encounters by telling Luhn directly or through Defendant Shine or Senior Vice President Kim Hume that there was a “booking meeting” in New York that she needed to attend.
Much as I'd love to have a trial expose the complicity of Fox's top brass in the sexual abuse at the network I suspect this case will settle. As Folkenflik also notes, Luhn’s suit “comes at a time of significant legal peril for Fox News.” He’s referring to the billion-dollar defamation lawsuits by voting technology companies over Fox’s promotion of the Big Lie following the 2020 presidential elections. Dominion Voting Systems is suing for $1.6 billion, in a case scheduled for trial in April. The other case, Smartmatic’s similar $2.7 billion suit has not yet been scheduled for trial.
Now, there's Hunter Biden's threatened defamation lawsuit, too.
You can watch Luhn talk about her experiences at Fox below, from ABC News' November 18, 2016 20/20.