Ousted Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has taken legal action against a former New Jersey politician who said on Facebook the ex-broadcaster sexually harassed his ex-girlfriend and tried to recruit her to get information to use against a different woman who sued him.
Attorneys for O’Reilly filed paperwork in State Supreme Court in Nassau County on Friday demanding $5 million from Michael J. Panter, claiming the former New Jersey state assemblyman defamed O’Reilly in a social media post.
The court filing, which demands a response within a month, claims Panter’s post was intentional and malicious.
O’Reilly spokesman Mark Fabiani released a statement that also called it “completely contrived, false and defamatory,” and aimed at hurting O’Reilly — who lives in Nassau County — and his family.
Fox News forced O’Reilly out in April after The New York Times reported the network and O’Reilly had paid millions in settlements to several female employees who accused him of sexual or other harassment going back years — allegations O’Reilly has denied.
Panter wrote in a Wednesday post that a former girlfriend, who he said sued O’Reilly but was bound by a nondisclosure agreement, had worked at Fox News and suffered sexual harassment from him.
He recalled being with the woman when O’Reilly would call her late at night, and a time when the commentator allegedly called her to ask her to dig up dirt on a different woman who was suing him for sexual harassment.
“I am speaking the truth, and expect my account to be fully corroborated,” Panter said in a statement Friday. “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.”
The former politician and current financial company partner said he had consulted with a legal firm, and believed he had a strong basis to bring a defamation claim against O’Reilly.
Panter added he hoped the matters could be “more amicably resolved,” but if he recovered any funds, he’d donate them to groups supporting victims of sexual harassment and abuse.