July 19, 2024

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Former Tucker Carlson producer accused of sexual assault

4 min read

Justin Wells, the ex-Fox News producer who was in charge of 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, says that early in his career at the network, 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 suit dates back to 2008, when Wells was a producer for Greta Van Susteren, who was then a Fox News anchor. Wells became producer of Carlson’s program in 2017, overseeing its rise into becoming the most-watched program on cable news. He eventually held the title of senior executive producer and vice president.

Carlson’s program, which had lost its major advertising support due to the host’s inflammatory remarks about race and immigration and conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 insurrection, was pulled off the air on April 24. Wells was terminated the same day.

A Fox News representative did not have an immediate comment on the matter. Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer for Wells, said in a statement that her client “denies the allegations unequivocally, and will contest them vigorously.”

Dhillon called the suit “another attempt by a law firm with a history of suing Fox and its former employees to cash in on frivolous allegations.”

According to the suit, Wells contacted Delancey on Aug. 3, 2007, through direct messages on Facebook. Wells said he was a producer at the Fox-owned TV station WNYW and had formerly worked at the company’s Tampa station where Delancey was employed at the time. In their messages, Delancey expressed a desire to work in New York.

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

The suit said Wells made it clear to Delancey on more than one occasion that he could help his career at Fox News.

When Delancey expressed unhappiness about his salary at Fox News, Wells offered to recommend him for a higher paying position at the NBC station in New York. Wells also invited Delancey to a get together with other co-workers at the Barracuda Lounge, a gay bar in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Delancey said he met up with Wells, who suggested they first go up to his one-bedroom apartment 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 pull off Delancey’s jeans and grabbed his genitals. Delancey’s suit said he yelled “no” and was able to “slow down the attack.”

Delancey said he convinced Wells that they should head back to the Barracuda Lounge. Wells agreed but wanted Delancey to see the view from the rooftop of his apartment building. As they went up the stairwell, Wells attacked him again, putting his hand down the front of Delancey’s pants, according to the suit.

Delancey pulled away and told Wells to stop. He left the apartment building and did not return to the bar.

Delancey continued to pursue the job at the NBC station. He was not hired and believes Wells withdrew his recommendation.

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

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

Delancey said his career progression at the company stopped, and he returned to his previous position at the Fox TV station in Tampa.

Delancey recounted the details of the alleged incident — with no mention of Wells — in a 2017 Facebook post to show solidarity with women who were telling their harassment stories during the #MeToo movement. Wells reached out to Delancey to offer support.

Delancey said Wells wrote, “Hey. Saw your post. I’m sorry that happened to you. Who was it?” according to the suit. Delancey did not respond.

Delancey is seeking a jury trial. He filed his claim under the New York Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily opened a window to bypass the statute of limitations in New York for filing a civil sexual abuse lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Fox News paid a $12-million settlement to former producer Abby Grossberg, who claimed she faced sexual harassment and a hostile work environment while working for Carlson’s program where Wells was a supervisor. Delancey is being represented by the same law firm, Filappatos PLLC in New York.

Fox News has been the defendant in a number of sexual harassment lawsuits and has paid millions to settle other claims since former anchor Gretchen Carlson sued founding chief executive Roger Ailes in 2016. The company has taken measures to address the deficiencies in handling such matters in recent years since under current chief executive Suzanne Scott.

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