One of Bill O'Reilly's former accusers sued him and Fox News on Monday for allegedly defaming her and breaching their settlement agreement.
One of the lawyers, Neil Mullin, said O'Reilly and the network violated a non-disparagement clause in their 2002 settlement agreement with Bernstein, which stated that if asked about the case, they should simply say "the matter has been settled".
Since Fox News cut ties with O'Reilly-just weeks after the Times published an April report detailing the numerous settlements O'Reilly and 21st Century Fox made regarding sexual harassment-he's taken numerous occasions to question the credibility of the anonymous women and reiterate his total innocence.
Rachel Witlieb Bernstein claims in her U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY suit Bernstein v. O'Reilly, 17-cv-09483, that she was not the source of information for the April 1 story that appeared in the Times.
"In fact", states the complaint, "Ms. Bernstein repeatedly complained to Fox Human Resources, Bill Shine, and other Fox executives, about Mr. O'Reilly's mistreatment and both defendant Fox News Network LLC and O'Reilly knew that before making the statement above".
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That line, as well as other public statements, represented a breach of his settlement deal with Bernstein, she alleges in Manhattan Federal Court.
In the New York Times story, O'Reilly said he paid Bernstein and other women who complained because he's "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity".
"He's gone far beyond that and painted our client in a awful light", lawyer Neil Mullin told WaPo, claiming that O'Reilly violated the 2002 settlement case by implying that Bernstein's claims were politically motivated, Variety reported. "She was forced out of her job at Fox News and paid a settlement because of the mistreatment". She accused him of forcing her into a "nonconsensual relationship".
Mullin said O'Reilly's comments violated the 2002 agreement and illustrate a broader issue, in which powerful men who are exposed as harassers attempt to discredit their victims. "They should release all victims from their NDAs and let the truth out".
Bernstein's suit claims emotional distress as well as reputational and financial harm.
Bernstein did not allege she was a victim of sexual harassment in the lawsuit.