He called his show “The No-Spin Zone.” But in court papers, he tried to force his accusers to lie.
A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against Bill O’Reilly’s motion to seal the settlement deals he made with several women who accused him of sexual harassment.
And now the public has gained some insight into the multimillion-dollar agreements the former Fox News host and the network struck with at least five women.
Among the more extreme stipulations found in his 2004 agreement with Andrea Mackris: Should the ex-O’Reilly Factor producer ever go public with her accusations, she would not only have to return the settlement money but also give O’Reilly the value of any benefits she receives as a result of going public.
Furthermore, the settlement deal required that if a third party ever released any evidence pertaining to Mackris’ accusations, she would be obligated to publicly “disclaim them as counterfeit or forgeries.” In other words, as Macrkis’ lawyers wrote in a motion filed Wednesday, the deal effectively required her to “lie—even in legal proceedings or under oath—if any evidence becomes public.”
Additionally, CNN reported, the lawyers’ filing noted that Mackris’ attorney for the settlement, Benedict Morelli, jumped ship to become O’Reilly’s lawyer during negotiations. “This profoundly unethical conflict left Ms. Mackris virtually without legal counsel,” the filing said.
“Every step we took was to negotiate the best possible deal for Ms. Mackris. We worked extremely hard to secure a significant financial settlement for her,” Morelli responded in a statement. “The claim that I did not vigorously represent her, or that I represented O’Reilly during or after the settlement process, is absolutely false.”
Mackris sued O’Reilly in October 2004, accusing the prime-time king of sexual harassment, quoting him verbatim from phone calls she surreptitiously recorded. (Mackris and other accusers, her lawyers wrote, “were forced to relinquish audio and video tapes recording O’Reilly’s harassment and abuse.”)
The ex-associate producer alleged that the “tyrannical and menacing” O’Reilly would masturbate while on the phone with her, at other points suggesting she have phone sex or a threesome with him.
According to a transcript of their calls, O’Reilly famously fantasized to Mackris that he would like to fondle her in the shower with a loofah, which he mistakenly referred to as a “falafel thing.”
Two weeks later, O’Reilly settled the case with a payout around $9 million.
Wednesday’s disclosure of O’Reilly’s settlement documents came as a result of a defamation suit brought against the famed gasbag by Mackris and fellow accusers Rebecca Gomez Diamond and Rachel Witlieb Bernstein in response to him and Fox News painting them as liars.
O’Reilly attempted to prevent the unsealing of his settlement paperwork, but according to CNN, the presiding Judge Deborah Batts ruled Tuesday that O’Reilly “has failed to present compelling countervailing factors that could overcome the presumption of public access” to the deals.
She further asserted that the ex-host “has not even come close to rebutting this First Amendment presumption” in favor of publicizing the documents. “Defendant O’Reilly asks the Court to resolve a dispute by relying on the very Agreements he seeks to shield from public view.”