In an emotional Huffington Post essay published June 18, 2015, the 50-year-old said that she was the victim of inappropriate sexual behavior early in her career.
Carlson – who did not identify any of her alleged harassers by name – said the first incident occurred shortly after she finished the one-year Miss America term she began in 1989.
After getting some career help from a man she called “a top TV executive,” Carlson said he “threw himself on top of me and stuck his tongue down my throat” while on a car ride home. She pulled away, jumping out of the vehicle as soon as she got to a friend’s apartment.
Just a few months later, Carlson met with a “top public relations executive” for dinner in Los Angeles with aims to launch her news media career. “After I got into the passenger seat of his car, he abruptly put his hand on the back of my head and shoved my face into his crotch,” she wrote.
“After each incident, I spent sleepless nights wondering what I should do next,” Carlson said of feeling powerless. “Should I tell someone? But whom could I tell? In my heart I knew that I wouldn’t be believed. These men were powerful, and I had no power. So I stayed silent.”
Another encounter happened while Carlson, now 50, was working as a reporter for a Richmond, Virginia, news station. While out on a story in a rural area, Carlson’s cameraman helped her attach a microphone under her shirt – something she called part of their “normal routine.” It was only on the ride back to the station that things became “creepy” and “scary” when the man began to tell Carlson he “enjoyed touching” her breasts. The cameraman was let go after Carlson told her boss about the encounter.
In her essay, Carlson outlined steps women can take if they are sexually harassed: “We have to stop blaming the victim. Too often the narrative about sexual harassment is that women bring it on themselves by the way they dress, act or look.”
She added that women can not let “the fact that sexual harassment exists” hold them back, and, finally, charged that sexual harassment training should be mandatory at all workplaces.
“We have to stop thinking of sexual harassment as only a women’s issue,” Carlson wrote. “It comes down to how we raise our children, including our sons. It’s not enough to tell our daughters to stand up for themselves. Part of putting an end to harassment involves educating boys to be completely accepting of women, both at home and at work, so that harassment becomes a relic of the past.”
In her new suit against Ailes, Carlson alleges that he “has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment,” according to papers obtained by PEOPLE.
Carlson charges that Ailes, 76, retaliated against her specifically through limiting her assignments and exposure on the network, and, most recently, firing the Real Story anchor.
She alleges he asked “her to turn around so he could view her posterior,” commented on her body and wardrobe, and once told her “she was ‘sexy,’ but ‘too much hard work.’ ”