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Former Tucker Carlson producer accused of sexual assault in lawsuit

Nature

Justin Wells, the former Fox News producer who ran Tucker Carlson’s program before both men were ousted earlier this year, is being sued in a sexual assault case by a former employee of the conservative news network .

The former employee, Andrew Delancey, claims that early in his network career, Wells made unwanted sexual advances when he visited the producer’s apartment, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday in the Southern District of New York. Fox News is also named as a defendant in the suit, which accuses the company of negligence.

The incident described in the 20-page court filing dates back to 2008, when Wells was a producer for Greta Van Susteren, who was then a Fox News anchor. Wells became a producer on Carlson’s program in 2017, overseeing its rise to becoming the most-watched cable news program. He eventually held the title of senior executive producer and vice president.

Carlson’s show, which had lost its major advertising backer due to the host’s inflammatory remarks about race, immigration and conspiracy theories regarding the January 6 riot, went off the air on April 24. Wells ended the same day.

A consultant for Fox Information did not immediately address the subject. Harmeet Dhillon, Wells’ attorney, said in a news release that his client “unequivocally denies the allegations and will vigorously contest them.”

Dhillon called the combination “another attempt by a regulator with a history of suing Fox and its former employees to profit from frivolous allegations.”

In response to the suit, Wells contacted Delancey on August 3, 2007, via Facebook direct messages. Wells said he was a producer at Fox-owned television station WNYW and previously worked at the company’s Tampa station, where Delancey was employed at the time. Among their messages, Delancey expressed the wish to work in New York.

Delancey was hired in 2008 to work for Fox Information Edge, a service that coordinates news content with Fox TV associates. Delancey did not report to Wells, but was given tasks for Van Susteren’s program.

The suit said Wells made it clear to Delancey on multiple occasions that he could support her career at Fox News.

When Delancey expressed dissatisfaction with his salary at Fox News, Wells offered to nominate him for the next paying spot on the NBC station in New York. Wells also invited Delancey to a party with other colleagues at the Barracuda Lounge, a gay bar in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Delancey said he met with Wells, who advised them to go to his one-bedroom apartment first for a “pre-game cocktail.”

Delancey was served a vodka with cranberry juice. Wells then allegedly forced Delancey onto his bed and “violently forced his tongue” into his mouth, according to the suit.

Wells then attempted to remove Delancey’s jeans and grab his genitals. Delancey’s suit said he yelled “no” and was able to “slow down the attack.”

Delancey said he convinced Wells they wanted to return to the Barracuda Lounge. Wells agreed but wanted Delancey to see the view from the roof of his condo building. As they walked up the stairwell, Wells attacked him again, placing his hand down the front of Delancey’s pants, consistent with the costume.

Delancey walked away and advised Wells to stop. He left the condo building and did not return to the bar.

Delancey continued to work at the NBC station. He was not employed and believes Wells withdrew his suggestion.

After the interview, Delancey said Wells told him he was “not thinking clearly” and was “kidding himself.” He believed Wells was telling him he was harming himself by not giving in to his sexual advances.

Delancey said that when he mentioned the incident with his supervisor at Fox Information Edge, the supervisor discouraged him from reporting it to human sources. He said he told female employees at the company about the incident who told them they had also been harassed by Wells.

Delancey said his career progression at the company stalled and he returned to his old job at Fox TV in Tampa.

Delancey recounted details of the alleged incident — without mentioning Wells — in a 2017 Facebook post to show solidarity with women coming forward with their stories of harassment during the #MeToo movement. Wells contacted Delancey for assistance.

Delancey said Wells wrote: “Hey. I noticed your submission. I’m sorry this happened to you. Who was it?” according to the suit. Delancey did not respond.

Delancey is seeking a jury trial. He filed his suit under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which quickly opened a window to bypass the statute of limitations in New York to bring a civil action for sexual abuse.

Earlier this year, Fox News paid a $12 million settlement to former producer Abby Grossberg, who claimed she was the victim of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment while working on Carlson’s program where Wells was manager. Delancey is represented by the same regulatory agency, Filappatos PLLC in New York.

Fox News has been a defendant in numerous sexual harassment lawsuits and has paid millions to settle other claims since former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued founding CEO Roger Ailes in 2016. The company has taken steps to address deficiencies in the handling of complaints. such things in recent times under the leadership of current Managing Director Suzanne Scott.

Nature
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