Ex-Fox News anchor Ed Henry tried - unsuccessfully - to have a lawsuit filed by former Fox Business staffer Jennifer Eckhart against him for sex trafficking, retaliatory harassment, revenge porn and gender-motivated violence in the form of sexual assault and rape dismissed. This lawsuit led to his firing from Fox News back in the summer of 2020. At the time, it was related to allegations of "sexual misconduct" on the job. His 2016 "time out" from his job at FOX was also related to sexual misconduct with a hostess in Las Vegas while Henry was covering the 2016 campaign. So, this goes back pretty far.
Law and Crime reports that Henry and Fox News tried to get numerous claims dismissed and were only partially successful. The case stems from allegations made by ex-associate producer Jennifer Eckhart, involving allegations that legally fall under "sex trafficking" although they are more like quid pro quo or sex in exchange for a personal or professional trade.
In her lawsuit, Eckhart stated that after Henry threatened her job if she didn't have sex with him, he went farther. “He hit her,” Eckhart lawyer Michael John Willemin wrote in the complaint. “He handcuffed her. He bruised her up. He called her a ‘whore.’ He told her she doesn’t have a choice.”
That was done in the context of threatening her: Either she would have sex with Henry or lose her job.
The opinion of U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams states: “She asserts that [Henry] is liable for sex trafficking because she says he used empty promises of career advancement to defraud her into coming to his hotel room, then used force to cause her to have sexual intercourse with him...To be sure, this is not a conventional claim of sex trafficking. Eckhart has not alleged, for example, that Henry forced her into prostitution or sexual slavery.”
Although this is not what the public thinks of when they hear the phrase "sex trafficking," it apparently does fall under the “relatively broad language of the applicable statute ”through the usage of “force or fraud to cause a person to “engage in a sex act” for a “thing of value.”
In addition to the charge of sex trafficking against Henry personally, the judge allowed "multiple harassment-related counts against Fox News" to continue as well. In her ruling, the judge stated: “At this juncture, the Court concludes that Eckhart has plausibly alleged that the network knew or should have known about Henry’s sexually harassing behavior but not necessarily the specific conduct that amounts to sex trafficking."
Eckhart is pleased, for sure. Her attorney's statement to Law and Crime said: "Neither Fox News nor Ed Henry succeeded in their early attempts to escape liability as to Ms. Eckhart’s allegations of rape, sexual assault and unlawful termination. Both parties remain in the case with respect to these important allegations. Moreover, the Court made clear that Mr. Henry acted completely inappropriately in attempting to victim shame our client during this litigation. We intend on pushing this case forward expeditiously and asking a jury to hold both Fox News and Mr. Henry accountable for their alleged conduct.”
This is just another instance of powerful men at Fox News abusing their status and power to take advantage of women employed at the same network. Keep an eye on this story.