Former Fox Business Network guest analyst Scottie Nell Hughes claims she was removed from the air after alleging that host Charles Payne raped her four years ago.


Payne was being investigated internally by Fox and cleared of any wrongdoing over the summer, and Hughes filed her lawsuit two weeks after. Her civil suit comes as Fox News has received multiple accusations from women of sexual harassment at the network. In the recent past, Fox has parted ways with several executives accused, but cleared Payne’s name.

Payne’s lawyer, Jonathan Halpern, released a statement denying the claims, calling them “outrageous,” and saying that his client “vehemently denies any wrongdoing and will defend himself vigorously against this baseless complaint.”

According to Hughes’ lawsuit, in July 2013, Payne “pressured his way into Ms. Hughes’ hotel room for a ‘private discussion.’ Tragically, Payne sexually assaulted and raped Ms. Hughes.” Additionally, Hughes’ lawyers acknowledge that she carried out an affair with Payne for two years after the fact, while he was married. They also claim that the relationship was not consensual, and that Payne used his position of power to manipulate Hughes into having sex with him, promising to “help advance her career and opportunities.”

“What constitutes a consensual affair between adults in a relationship outside of the workplace is not the same as a relationship between a male employee in a position of authority and a female subordinate in the workplace,” the lawsuit states. “Payne used his position of power to pressure Ms. Hughes into submission.”

Hughes further accuses Fox News of leaking her name to the National Enquirer to make them report that the two had a consensual affair. She claims that she was pursuing a contributor deal with Fox News that never came to fruition, and that various offers to appear on air were dropped after she rejected Payne’s sexual advances.

Hughes reported the harassment to a firm hired by Fox to investigate in June of this year. Payne was suspended on July 6 and reinstated to his show, Making Money, on Sept. 8. Her new lawsuit accuses Payne of wrongdoing but also two Fox executives. “My complaint speaks for itself,” Hughes says. “What is most important to me is that justice will prevent other women from going through the nightmare I’m now living.”

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