Bill O’Reilly suffered a major loss in court after a judge ruled that the terms of the settlement agreements he made with three women would not be sealed. The women are suing the former Fox News host for defamation and breach of contract. Their settlement agreements will now be entered into the public record which gives their current court action momentum.
CNN reported that Judge Deborah Batts rendered her decision on Tuesday stating that not only did O’Reilly’s team fail to “present compelling countervailing factors” to justify keeping the documents hidden from public view. The details of those settlements reveal that the victims were rendered powerless even after their cases were settled.
Andrea Mackris worked as a Fox News producer who in 2004 filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O’Reilly. A motion filed on Wednesday by the three plaintiffs’ attorneys, Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith, asserted that the agreement forced Mackris to deny the validity of any evidence that might come to light about O’Reilly’s misconduct toward her.
She was bound by the agreement even if she was testifying under oath. Failure to do so meant that she would have to return all monies received under the agreement plus payment of O’Reilly’s legal fees.
Mackris joined the defamation lawsuit brought by Rachel Witlieb Bernstein in late 2017 along with the third accuser, Rebecca Gomez Diamond. Mackris and Diamond had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment while Bernstein alleged verbal abuse and discrimination.
All three women settled their cases and signed non-disclosure agreements. But once the New York Times reported several incidents, including a $32 million settlement with former Fox legal analyst Lis Wiehl, O’Reilly, Fox News, and 21st Century Fox were said to launch smear campaigns against the women.
O’Reilly has maintained that he only settled these cases to protect his children from the negative media attention. He claimed to have evidence that proved the actions against him were politically and financially motivated. O’Reilly said that he is innocent, called the Times articles “bulls**t,” and claimed to be “mad at God” for putting him through all of this.
But Mackris claimed that prior to the settlement, she had kept evidence of Bill O’Reilly’s sexually-charged behavior, including recorded phone calls. Upon signing the settlement agreement, she was forced to turn over all audio and video recordings in her possession.