Fox Business host Charles Payne vows to fight sexual harassment allegations 'like a lion'

Fox Business Network host Charles Payne took to social media Friday to rebut allegations of sexual harassment that led to his suspension from the channel.

“I will fight this like a lion armed with truth,” Payne tweeted Friday. “Thanks so much to all those who have reached out in support. #FightingBack.”

Payne was removed from the air indefinitely Thursday, hours after the Los Angeles Times reported that he was being investigated by FBN parent 21st Century Fox. A female political analyst who was a frequent guest on the network brought her allegations of sexual misconduct last month to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the law firm investigating harassment claims for Fox.

An FBN representative said in a statement that “the matter is being thoroughly investigated and we are taking all of the appropriate steps to reach a resolution in a timely manner.”

The woman’s name is not being disclosed by The Times because her allegations include being coerced into a sexual relationship by Payne.

Payne, who hosted the nightly FBN program “Making Money,” criticized the media for the reports.

“Not surprising media outlets that hate President Trump most put out most twisted stories on me,” Payne tweeted.

Payne acknowledged to the National Enquirer on Wednesday — the day before his suspension — that he was in a three-year “romantic relationship” with the woman. But he has called the claims of harassment “an ugly lie.”

Payne also hired a new attorney, Jonathan Halpern, who said in a statement late Thursday night: “Charles Payne vehemently denies the allegations. He will defend himself vigorously against these claims and will hold those responsible to account.”

Halpern took Payne on as a client Thursday in what is clearly a move by the host to get more high-powered representation for the case. A litigation partner with the firm Foley & Lardner LLP, Halpern leads the government enforcement, compliance and white collar defense practice in its New York office. He is a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York.

The woman who filed a complaint with Paul, Weiss was never an employee of Fox News but appeared as a guest across numerous Fox News and Fox Business Network programs with the hope of becoming a paid contributor. She has told her lawyer, who is preparing a legal complaint against Fox News and Payne, that she stayed in the relationship with the host because she believed he would help her chances of landing a position at the network. She alleges that her opportunities diminished after the relationship ended in 2015 when Payne’s wife learned of their involvement.

None of Payne’s colleagues at Fox Business Network or Fox News commented about the matter, with the exception of Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera, who tweeted about the nature of TV newsroom relationships.

“Sex harassment claims must be taken seriously but beware the pendulum swinging too far. Consenting adults must bear personal responsibility,” he said on Twitter.

He added: “Sex harassment is bad & perps do so at their peril. But news is a flirty biz. Look at all newsroom relationships that have ended in marriage.”

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

ALSO

Sexual harassment claims prompt venture capitalists to apologize, change policies and head to counseling

White House threatened Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with a National Enquirer story, the two allege

Outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz will join Fox News as a contributor

Another sexual harassment scandal in the tech world in which alleged victims risked their careers to expose it

Fox News Co-President Bill Shine resigns amid criticism of his handling of sexual harassment claims

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
52°