Over the course of April, Bill O'Reilly's position at Fox News became increasingly precarious amid repeated allegations of sexual harassment made against him. New York Magazine reported that Fox News has decided to let O'Reilly go — a report the network later confirmed — in response to these allegations, which claim that O'Reilly harassed several of his female colleagues. (O'Reilly denies all claims, describing them as a political smear campaign against him.) While these allegations ultimately spelled the end of O'Reilly's tenure at Fox News, they are not the first of their kind to be made against him. Back in 2015, while he was in a custody battle, the now-defunct Gawker reported that court documents show O'Reilly's wife had accused him of domestic abuse. O'Reilly has denied this accusation.
At the time of the Gawker report, O'Reilly issued a statement through his personal attorney:
According to Gawker, a court-appointed psychologist named Larry Cohen testified in 2014 that O'Reilly's daughter allegedly said she had witnessed him choking her mom, Maureen McPhilmy — O'Reilly's ex-wife — as well as dragging her down some stairs.
These accusations against O'Reilly reportedly surfaced during court proceedings that were part of O'Reilly and McPhilmy's three-year custody battle. McPhilmy ultimately won custody of their two minor children in 2015.
While his daughter's allegations may not have been the reason he lost custody of his children, the Nassau County Supreme Court's four justices unanimously ruled in McPhilmy's favor in the custody battle, citing “the clearly stated preferences of the children” and “quality of the home environment provided by the mother.”
Public pressure seemed to have reached a breaking point over sexual harassment allegations against O'Reilly in recent weeks, with protesters calling on the company to fire him, more than 50 sponsors withdrawing their ads from his show, The O'Reilly Factor, and yet another woman coming forward to report sexual harassment allegations against him.
Take note: Women took Bill O'Reilly down.— NARAL (@NARAL) April 19, 2017
Good riddance. https://t.co/FrBFGyvB2d
The New York Times' recent investigation into the allegations made against O'Reilly found that five women who had either worked for him or appeared on his show reportedly received payouts so that they wouldn't pursue litigation. These settlements reportedly took place over a decade, and the payouts — which reportedly totaled $13 million — came from either O'Reilly or Fox News.
According to BBC, O'Reilly's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, described the latest allegation against his client as part of a "brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America." However, while O'Reilly denied the merits of all the women's allegations against him, Variety reported that he did acknowledge that he entered into the aforementioned settlements to protect his family.
In addition to protesters, women working for Fox News have wondered whether the company would start treating sexual harassment as a serious problem, the New York Times reported. Letting O'Reilly go — knowing full well that this latest allegation was not the first but comes after a series of settlements, as well as an accusation of domestic abuse — may have been Fox News' only option.