A producer for the FOX News Channel has sued the cable network’s biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, accusing him of sexual harassment. The woman filed her legal papers only hours after O’Reilly sued her, claiming that she and her lawyer had tried to extort money from him.
The producer, Andrea Mackris, who went to work for O’Reilly in 2000 but left the job recently, says the commentator had phone sex with her against her wishes three times, the Associated Press reports. In his claim against Mackris and her attorney, Benedict Morelli, O’Reilly said Morelli demanded $60 million in “hush money” not to proceed with her lawsuit.
“As a public figure, I have received many threats,” O’Reilly, 55, said Wednesday night on his program, The O’Reilly Factor. “But enough is enough … The threats stop now. I will not give in to extortion.” The commentator called the legal action against him “the single most evil thing I have ever experienced, and I’ve seen a lot.”
O’Reilly, who’s married with kids, also charges that Morelli is a contributor to the Democratic Party. The attorney said at a press conference Wednesday that his political contributions had nothing to do with the case.
In her papers, Mackris, 33, said that during one phone conversation this past August O’Reilly suggested she buy a vibrator and was clearly excited. Before hanging up, she said, O’Reilly told her: “I appreciate the fun phone call.”
The New York Times reports that O’Reilly has not specifically denied any of the accusations in Mackris’s suit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Among her other claims, the newspaper says: O’Reilly repeatedly spoke offensively about sex over the phone while using a vibrator on himself and that he fantasized about having sex with her in the shower.
In a Sept. 21 phone call, Mackris claims, O’Reilly said: “Next time you’ll come up to my hotel room and we’ll make this happen.”
O’Reilly’s lawyer, Ronald Green, tells AP that he believes there are tapes of conversations between the two and asked a court to compel Mackris to produce them so they could be played publicly.
“I know that he does not fear what is on the tapes,” Green said.