Legal battle heats up over sexual harassment allegations against Carlson, Hannity

Legal battle heats up over sexual harassment allegations against Carlson, Hannity
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Fox News is asking a judge to consider imposing sanctions on the law firm that represented a woman who alleged she was a victim of sexual harassment by network hosts Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right 90 percent of full-time Fox Corp. employees say they're fully vaccinated: executive MORE, Sean HannitySean Patrick Hannity90 percent of full-time Fox Corp. employees say they're fully vaccinated: executive The Memo: California recall exposes the limit of Trump's GOP Republicans divided on Trump's strength as possible 2024 candidate MORE and Howard Kurtz, arguing her allegations are "patently false."

In a letter sent on August 7 and referenced in a public filing on Thursday, attorneys representing Fox accused Cathy Areu of engaging in "serious misconduct by making patently false allegations of sexual misconduct" against the Fox News employees.

Attorneys for Fox News said Areu's former law firm, Wigdor LLP, should be punished by the court for allegedly failing to investigate text messages and emails that, according to Fox, contradict her accusations.

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A letter from the Fox News attorneys to the judge said Areu "knew her claims to be false and that Wigdor either knew the same or should have known through the most basic investigation."

"These false allegations have inflicted serious reputational harm on the Defendants, and this harm has been exacerbated by the sensationalized press release that Wigdor issued, which caused the false allegations to be widely reported in the news media,” the letter went on to say.

Areu was initially represented by Wigdor. She has since sought representation from Valli Kane & Vagnini.

The Hill has reached out to both firms for comment.

A representative for Wigdor told The Wrap that Fox News's claims were “preposterous” and said the firm had requested the judge prohibit attorneys for the network to file a motion seeking sanctions against Wigdor.

Areu made her allegations in a lawsuit last month, prompting a staunch denial from the network.

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“Based on the findings of a comprehensive independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm, including interviews with numerous eyewitnesses, we have determined that all of Cathy Areu’s claims against FOX News, including its management as well as its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity & Howard Kurtz ... are false, patently frivolous and utterly devoid of any merit,” Fox News said in a July 20 statement.

That same lawsuit, filed in federal court by Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin on behalf of Areu and Jennifer Eckhart, alleged ex-Fox News host Ed Henry sexually harassed both women and raped Eckhart. It also said Fox News supported and promoted Henry after receiving complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior and only fired him because of an impending lawsuit.

An attorney for Henry denied their allegations, while Fox News said it took swift action in firing Henry after learning of Eckhart's claims, adding that it was unaware of her claims beforehand.

Attorneys for Fox News told the judge this month that if Areu does not retract her allegations against Carlson, Hannity and Kurtz by Friday then she and her former firm should be punished by the court.

"In short, if Areu’s false claims are not withdrawn by Friday, August 28, then she and Wigdor must face the consequences," the letter concludes.

—Updated Monday at 7:17 p.m.