Fox News commentator, in lawsuit, says she was sexually assaulted by host, blacklisted by network

Former Fox News commentator Scottie Nell Hughes says she was raped by longtime anchor Charles Payne, and then blacklisted by the network when she came forward with her allegations, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Hughes, 37, says in the lawsuit that Payne “pressured” his way into her hotel room in 2013 and coerced her to have sexual intercourse with him, even as she rebuffed his attempts. She says in the suit that because she was “ashamed,” she did not immediately report the episode and was forced over the next two years to engage in a sexual relationship with Payne.

Hughes, who was a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business from 2013 until 2016, said that when she ended the relationship with Payne, the network blacklisted her.

The network is strongly defending Payne, the host of Making Money on Fox Business, calling Hughes’ allegations against him a “publicity stunt.”

“We will vigorously defend this,” a Fox spokesperson said.

Jonathan Halpern, who is representing Payne, said in a statement that his client “vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless claim.”

“We are confident that when the evidence is presented in this case, Mr. Payne will be fully vindicated and these outrageous accusations against him will be confirmed as completely false,” Halpern said.

The lawsuit, which names 21st Century Fox, Fox News and Payne as defendants, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. It alleges gender motivated violence, gender discrimination, retaliation and defamation.

The suit is the latest in a series of embarrassing scandals for Fox, which in recent years has ousted its chairman, Roger Ailes, and its most popular host, Bill O’Reilly, over allegations of sexual harassment.