21st Century Fox and Fox News work on settling numerous sexual assault allegations.
In the months since his leave, 21st Century Fox and Fox News have made agreements with numerous women who have alleged former chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Roger Ailes, sexually assaulted them, and the network continues to deal with claims accusing other executives of similar misbehavior. These settlements include a $20 million pay out to Gretchen Carlson, which ultimately led to Ailes’ departure. A deal was also made with Fox News personality Juliet Huddy, who alleged Bill O’Reilly, the network’s top rated host, assaulted her. Both Ailes and O’Reilly deny any wrongdoing.
In late February, Fox settled for $2.5 million with Tamara Holder, former contributor, who had alleged that she was assaulted amid the numerous claims by yet another executive, Vice President of Fox News Latino, Francisco Cortes. Holder claims Cortes forced her into giving oral sex in February 2015, and she chose to keep the incident a secret at first, because she feared exposing the truth would damage her career.
Evidently, multiple attorneys had told Holder that her case would not be taken seriously considering Cortes’ larger than life reputation. She was told that had it been against someone with less public appreciation, she would stand a better chance of reaching a settlement. “I was told by agents and lawyers that if I opened up, I would forever be ‘toxic’ and my career would be over,” she indicated. “I worked hard and loved by job, but I could not be speechless. I had to turn my fear into courage.”
Holder, 37, eventually did just that and reported the assault to Fox News in September 2016, outing the network to Dianne Brandi, the top Fox News attorney who was long employed under Ailes. At the time of her statement, Holder did not immediately indicate that Cortes was behind the assault, but Holder and the network released a joint statement indicating that the contributor “reported an incident of sexual assault at Fox News headquarters from the prior year”, which solidified the fact that Fox took the claims seriously and began investigating. “Immediately after Ms. Holder notified Fox News of the alleged incident, the company promptly investigated the matter and took decisive action, for which Ms. Holder thanks the network,” the statement continued, pointing out that Cortes was terminated.
Holder left the network after her contract expired on January 1st although she was offered $300,000 in severance pay if she chose to leave early. She rejected this offer. Cortes’ attorney, Jay Sanchez, said, “I am presently considering Mr. Cortes’ legal options”.
Holder was a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in Chicago prior to the start of her Fox News contributor contract in 2010. She provided numerous legal analyses and political commentary during this time, even appearing on television and performing stand up comedy in her free time. Holder created a digital show for Fox News entitled “Sports Court”. The show focused on political and legal issues in the sports realm. The network stated, “Fox New is grateful to Ms. Holder for her many contributions during her tenure at the network and wishes her continued success.”