WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bill O’Reilly, a star Fox News commentator, has been accused of harassment by at least five women associated with the network, resulting in multi-million dollar payouts, The New York Times reported on Saturday (April 1).
It said Fox and O’Reilly had paid the five women a total of US$13 million (S$18 million) in exchange for their silence and agreeing not to pursue litigation against the news channel, a favourite among conservatives.
While two of the cases were previously known, the Times said it had unearthed three more cases of harassment, two of a sexual nature and one alleging abusive behaviour by O'Reilly.
The five women either worked on his programme, The O'Reilly Factor, or made regular appearances on it.
They have accused O'Reilly of using his powerful position at Fox to pressure them for sexual favours.
In a carefully worded statement posted on his website, O'Reilly did not actually deny any of the allegations, but said his prominence made him "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity."
He noted that "in my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline."
O'Reilly, who is 67, is one of the most prominent faces on American television.
The O'Reilly Factor is watched by some 450,000 viewers a day, one of Fox's biggest audiences.
The Times story comes less than a year after Roger Ailes resigned as the Fox News chief executive following accusations from several women that he had sexually harassed them. In November, then Fox anchor Megyn Kelly described similar encounters, which Ailes denied.
Fox News did not immediately reply to requests from AFP for comment.