Ex-Fox News contributor alleges anchor raped her in new lawsuit

Political contributor Scottie Nell Hughes filed a lawsuit against Fox News on Monday accusing the network of retaliating against her after she claimed she was raped by Fox Business anchor Charles Payne.

The New York Times reports that in the lawsuit, Hughes said Payne coerced her to have sex with him even though she had repeatedly refused him by saying “no” and “stop.”

Hughes alleges that she was forced to remain in a sexual relationship with Payne and received more appearances on Fox News and Fox Business during it. But Hughes said after she ended the relationship with Payne she was blacklisted by the network.

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“In July of 2013, I was raped by Charles Payne. In July of 2017, I was raped again by Fox News. Since then, I have been living an absolute hell,” Hughes told The Times.

Payne returned to Fox News earlier this month after being suspended in July amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Hughes said her lawsuit "speaks for itself" in a statement on Monday.

"What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I’m now living," she said.

Hughes’s suit comes at a time when Fox News is already under fire for what critics say is a top-down sexual harassment problem.

Earlier this month, the network announced that longtime host Eric Bolling would not be returning after being suspended over allegations that he sent lewd messages to female co-workers.

Bolling's exit came months after the shocking departure of prime-time star Bill O'Reilly, who left after The New York Times reported in April that he had paid $13 million to settle harassment claims from five women.

Former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was pushed out last summer after former host Gretchen Carlson accused the top exec of sexual harassment in a lawsuit. An investigation by an outside firm also revealed more claims by women who say they experienced inappropriate behavior from Ailes, including former prime-time anchor Megyn Kelly.

In a statement, Hughes's attorneys, Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne M. Christensen, say her suit represents "an action against Fox to hold it accountable for yet another case involving sexual harassment and retaliation inflicted by Fox executives in order to protect male, on-air talent.

“After Ms. Hughes confidentially reached out to Fox to disclose that she was sexually assaulted and raped by Fox anchor Charles Payne, Fox ruthlessly leaked her name to a reporter at the National Enquirer, along with a self-serving ‘statement’ by Payne apologizing for what he falsely described as an ‘affair,’ ” Wigdor and Christensen said.

Fox News strongly denied the allegations in their own statement Monday evening.

“The latest publicity stunt of a lawsuit filed by Doug Wigdor has absolutely no merit and is downright shameful,” a spokesperson for the network said. “We will vigorously defend this. It’s worth noting that Doug is Ms. Hughes’ third representative in the last six months to raise some variation of these claims which concern events from four years ago, since it apparently took some time to find someone willing to file this bogus case.”

— Last updated at 8:16 p.m.