Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1986 300SDL
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O'Reilly Case Settled Out of Court
Guess his oral arguments were successful.
O'Reilly Harassment Case Settled
Both Sides Withdraw Allegations
NEW YORK (Oct. 28) - Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly and a female co-worker who had accused him of sexual harassment have reached an out-of-court settlement, agreeing to drop all allegations against each other, his lawyers said Thursday.
The agreement brought an abrupt end to a sensational case that had turned the media spotlight on America's top-rated cable television news host, a darling of political conservatives and an outspoken proponent of personal morality.
The settlement, details of which were kept confidential, came a day before O'Reilly's accuser and her lawyer were due in court to divulge whether she had recordings of her telephone conversations with the commentator.
Andrea Mackris, 33, an associate producer for "The O'Reilly Factor," had sued the talk show host earlier this month, claiming he had repeatedly pressured her to engage in sexually explicit conversations over the phone, talking about vibrators, masturbation and pleasuring himself at times as he spoke.
She claimed O'Reilly and Fox News had threatened retaliation if she came forward with her allegations.
Anticipating the complaint, O'Reilly and Fox News already filed their own suit earlier the same day. The suit accused Mackris and her lawyer, Benedict Morelli, of trying to extort $60 million in "hush money" from him by threatening to go public with false allegations of sexual harassment.
In a statement Thursday, legal firm Becker & Green, which represented O'Reilly, said all parties had agreed to settle the dispute out of court, withdrawing both the harassment suit and the extortion case.
"All cases and claims have been withdrawn and all parties have agreed that there was no wrongdoing whatsoever by Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Mackris, or Ms. Mackris' counsel," the statement said.
The statement did not say whether a financial settlement was involved. "Out of respect for their families and privacy, all parties and their representatives have agreed that all information relating to the cases shall remain confidential," it said.
Mackris' lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
O'Reilly, 55, the married father of two, had said in his lawsuit that his reputation had been hurt and that he suffered "great mental strain, anguish and severe emotional distress".
But publicity surrounding the dispute seemed only to spark greater interest in his show, which has drawn consistently higher ratings since the scandal broke. Monday night's telecast was watched by 3.7 million viewers, one the program's biggest audiences ever, according to Nielsen Media Research.
O'Reilly, however, did recently cancel a series to TV interviews planned for the promotion of his new children's book, "The O'Reilly Factor for Kids."
His lawyers had sought access to tapes they believed Mackris had made of her phone conversations with O'Reilly as part of what they said was a plan to extort money from the commentator.
Mackris began working as an associate producer on O'Reilly's program in April 2000. She left for a few months earlier this year to work for rival network CNN but returned to Fox in July. Fox said she had been placed on paid leave since just before the exchange of lawsuits.
Asked whether Mackris remained employed by the network, a Fox News spokeswoman said only, "The statement (from O'Reilly's lawyers) speaks for itself."
Fox News Channel is part of the Fox Entertainment Group , which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
Reuters 19:02 10-28-04