SCANDAL

Former Executive Sues Fox News for $48 Million Over Sexual-Assault Claims

Francisco Cortes, a former Fox News executive fired after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female commentator, is suing parent company 21st Century Fox to the tune of $48 million for allegedly using him as a scapegoat in the network’s sexual-harassment scandal. In the wake of several claims made against the cable channel’s late Chief Executive Roger Ailes, on-air commentator Tamara Holder came forward this year to accuse Cortes of trying to force her into having oral sex in February 2015. Cortes was subsequently fired, and Holder was given a $2.5 million settlement by 21st Century Fox. But in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Cortes alleges that comments given to The New York Times by Fox and Holder about the case violated a confidentiality agreement. Cortes says his reputation and career were damaged as a result of the Times story published in March. “Mr. Cortes has served as a useful and relatively inexpensive ‘patsy’ for Fox to help it demonstrate that it has aggressively handled sexual-harassment complaints,” the complaint alleges. A Fox News spokesperson said on Wednesday, “The allegations in this lawsuit are frivolous and without merit.”