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Fox Sued for Allegedly Scapegoating Executive in Sexual Harassment Scandal
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Tamara Holder and Francisco Cortes. Photo courtesy of Media Moves.

Summary: Francisco Cortes is suing 21st Century Fox for ruining his reputation. 

For Fox News Latino executive, Francisco Cortes, the company’s decision to appear non-tolerant to sexual harassment came at his expense. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he is suing the network for $48 million, saying they made him a scapegoat in a sexual harassment case and thus ruined his reputation.


Cortes said that he was forced to stay silent as part of a settlement but that his accuser Tamara Holder and the network broke their part of the agreement and issued a joint statement, which allegedly smeared him.

“Immediately after Ms. Holder notified Fox News of the alleged incident, the company promptly investigated the matter and took decisive action, for which Ms. Holder thanks the network,” the joint-statement that was released earlier this year said. “Fox News is grateful to Ms. Holder for her many contributions during her tenure at the network and wishes her continued success.”

On Tuesday, Cortes filed a $48 million lawsuit against 21st Century Fox. In the lawsuit, Cortes, said that he “served as a useful ‘scapegoat’ for Fox to demonstrate that it aggressively handles sexual harassment complaints, as part of a carefully orchestrated plan to permit the Murdochs to eliminate concerns in the U.K. regarding their $15.2 billion acquisition of Sky in the U.K., and to protect the identity and shelter the reputations of the two unknown persons who, it must be assumed, were, unlike Mr. Cortes, not Latino, and not financially insignificant to Fox.”

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Last year, Fox News faced a major P.R. crisis when multiple women accused then-CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. Ailes resigned in July, but the network and its parent company 21st Century Fox, which is run by the Murdoch family, remained hypervigilant to maintain an image of zero tolerance for impropriety.

In March of this year, The New York Times reported that Fox had reached a settlement with Tamara Holder to resolve her allegation that Cortes had forced himself upon her. Cortes said that Holder’s $2.5 million settlement included a mutual disparagement agreement, which Holder and Fox allegedly broke.

“Nevertheless, a mere two weeks later, Tamara Holder and Fox delivered a previously planned and carefully negotiated joint statement to The New York Times regarding the allegations, in violation of their obligations,” Cortes’ complaint said.

Cortes added that the New York Times’ article destroyed his reputation and harmed his career. He said that Holder and Fox knew that Cortes could not respond for fear of litigation.

“They did this knowing that Mr. Cortes would, due to his own contractual obligations pursuant to the Tamara Holder and two unknown persons agreement, be forced to either violate those obligations, inviting litigation…or remain silent before a national/international press onslaught against him regarding the allegations, which he vehemently denies, but could not then deny via the press because his hands had been tied….” his complaint continued.

Cortes, who was friends with Ailes before his death, said that The New York Times’ writer Emily Steele was formerly employed at The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and his sons. Cortes implied that Steele was a part of a “plan” to scapegoat him.

Cortes also implicated law firm Paul Weiss in the “intentional and well-orchestrated plan” to take him down. Paul Weiss was the firm hired to investigate sexual harassment claims against Fox News.

Cortes is seeking damages in excess of $12 million and punitive damages in excess of $36 million. He is suing for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy to defraud, tortious interference and defamation. He is represented by attorney J.A. Sanchez.

Fox News said that Cortes’ allegations were meritless.

“The allegations in this lawsuit are frivolous and without merit,” the network said.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Updated 7/26/17 2:40 pm to include a statement from Fox News.

What do you think of Cortes’ lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.


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