Bill O’Reilly sues ex-NJ assemblyman over Facebook post detailing sexual harassment
RED BANK — A former assemblyman who is being sued by Bill O'Reilly for defamation is standing by his accusations against the embattled TV personality.
Michael Panter wrote on Facebook this week that O'Reilly sexually harassed his ex-girlfriend and wanted her to dig up dirt on another accuser.
A lawsuit filed on Friday in New York state court seeks $5 million in damages for what O'Reilly called Panter's "intentional, malicious, and bad faith actions in making defamatory and false statements in a publicly available social media post."
O'Reilly is one of several high-profile figures being accused by a torrent of women of sexual harassment and abuse stretching back years. O'Reilly was fired in April after reports that he and Fox News had settled harassment claims with several accusers. After the sordid accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light, the New York Times this month reported that Fox News had allowed O'Reilly to keep working after he settled a claim with a former Fox News personality for $32 million.
Panter is a Democrat who represented the 12th Legislative District in Monmouth County from 2004 to 2008. He wrote a lengthy post on his Facebook page earlier in the week detailing his ex-girlfriend's own experience working for O'Reilly.
"I hear O’Reilly spinning his falsehoods almost daily. This week he again said he did nothing wrong, while suggesting he’s been persecuted and had very few complaints “to Human Resources” during his decades at Fox. Bill should be aware that not everyone is bound by a non-disclosure … I am not," Panter wrote.
Panter said the woman, who he did not identify, would come home from work stressed by O'Reilly. She would also receive late night phone calls from him.
"I was also there on several occasions when a late night call would come from O’Reilly, which would create tension and make her clearly uncomfortable (I believe she later said in her suit that she believed he was masturbating). All as she was laying next to her boyfriend, and worried what hanging up could do to her career," Panter wrote.
Panter then detailed a phone conversation between the girlfriend and O'Reilly in which, according to Panter, O'Reilly asked her if she knew anything about another accuser's sex life or whether she used drugs.
He asked if anything was known about her sex life. He asked if she used any illegal drugs. He also asked if anything was known about her financial situation and marriage. In essence, the leadership of Fox, including their “HR” head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.
Think about that in light of him stating that very few women ever went to HR to complain about him, and how hollow those words ring.
In a subsequent Facebook post on Friday, Panter says that he is speaking the truth he expects his account "to be fully corroborated." He hinted at his own potential legal action against O'Reilly for defamation, saying that he would donate any monetary damages that he'd win to groups that help victims of sexual abuse.
"His actions give me a small sense of what victims must feel when speaking up against powerful men, and why more men hesitate to do so. I spoke up, and hope I’ll be supported as I’ve supported others," Panter wrote.
The channel's founder, Roger Ailes, a New Jersey resident, also was ousted last year following news of harassment accusations against him.
This week, several women accused former President George H.W. Bush of touching them inappropriately.
The Associated Press contribute to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com
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