Former Fox Staffer Says Ailes Sexually Harassed and 'Psychologically Tortured' Her for 20 Years

New allegations by a former Fox News staffer who says she was sexually harassed and “psychologically tortured” by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years reveal a disturbing a pattern of abuse and manipulation inflicted on female employees by the deposed network chief.

In a lengthy interview with New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, Laurie Luhn, a one-time booker for Fox News who began working with Ailes at his media consulting company in 1990, detailed an account of how the media mogul wielded his power and influence to intimidate her into performing sexual acts on him. “He’s a predator,” Luhn told Sherman.

According to Luhn, Ailes seized upon her poor financial situation in the early '90s and brought her on board at his communications firm, providing her with a job and cash while simultaneously demanding she become his “whore.” Ailes allegedly gave Luhn a “uniform” of a black garter and stockings, and made sure she was available to him at any given moment. Their sexual relationship continued for several years, and Luhn followed him from his communications firm to Fox News in the late '90s, in part because of the job opportunity.

Luhn said she was promoted through the ranks at Fox News, where she enjoyed Ailes’ protection within the company. Meanwhile, the abuse continued. In one of the more disturbing details in the New York magazine interview, Ailes even asked Luhn to bring in other young staffers for “one-on-one meetings” with him:

"By 2006, Luhn said, Ailes was regularly demanding phone sex in the office, but the hotel visits had stopped. Instead, said Luhn, Ailes instructed her to recruit young women for him. 'You’re going to find me "Roger’s Angels." You’re going to find me whores,' Luhn recalled Ailes saying on numerous occasions, urging her to send young Fox staffers his way. He had promoted Luhn to director of bookings, which gave her the authority to hire employees. She said she chose women Ailes would be attracted to. 'You're not expected to hire unattractive people,' she said."

Even more disturbing, Luhn said in 2011 she relayed her decades-long account of Ailes’ abuse in a letter to Fox lawyer Dianne Brandi. A source told Sherman that Ailes denied the relationship to Brandi, but told the lawyer to work out a $3.15 million settlement for Luhn. The settlement included a nondisclosure agreement prohibiting her from “from speaking to government authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the FBI.” 

Luhn’s account comes after reports indicate as many as 20 women spoke with lawyers to corroborate claims of Ailes’ sexual harassment. But she’s the first to speak publicly about actually engaging in a sexual relationship with Ailes in exchange for access and career opportunities. She said she was aware that speaking with New York magazine opened the door for litigation, but was adamant to tell her story.

“The truth shall set you free," Luhn told Sherman. "Nothing else matters."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.