Andrew Napolitano is out as a Fox News Channel legal analyst after being accused of harassing a male employee.
John Fawcett, an employee of the Fox Business Channel (a sister company of the Fox News Channel), filed suit Monday against the parent company, Fox News Network, alleging that Napolitano had sexually harassed him and other men and that Larry Kudlow, a Fox Business host, had made racist and sexist comments.
The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court (unlike in most other states, the Supreme Court is not the state's highest court), claims that Fox News Network violated the New York City Human Rights Law by subjecting Fawcett to "unwanted gender-based conduct." He alleges that Napolitano had a long history of such conduct and that the company did nothing about it. Napolitano, a lawyer and former New Jersey judge, is not named as a defendant in the suit.
Fawcett says he first encountered Napolitano in the fall of 2019, a few months after joining Fox Business, working first for Lou Dobbs and then for Kudlow. On an elevator at the company's headquarters in Manhattan, "Napolitano stood awkwardly close to the Plaintiff, stroking his arm, and asked who the Plaintiff worked for," the suit says. Napolitano looked at Fawcett "suggestively," according to the suit, and invited him to visit either Napolitano's farm in New Jersey or his apartment in Manhattan.
When Fawcett told his colleagues about the interaction, "they immediately started laughing, as "it was common knowledge that Judge Napolitano sexually harassed young men at Fox News," according to the suit. Fawcett eventually met with Kevin Lord, the executive vice president and chief human resources officer, who was dismissive of his complaint, Fawcett says.
He goes on to claim that one reason Fox News protected Napolitano was that officials there did not want to be accused of homophobia. "Fox News executives did not hold Judge Napolitano (or a gay male program host) to the same standards as other employees, ironically because the company wanted to counter claims that the network was intolerant or too conservative," the suit alleges. Napolitano, however, has never said he is gay, although 10 years ago he praised President Barack Obama's decision to cease defending the antigay Defense of Marriage Act.
Last year, a gay New Jersey man, James Kruzelnick, filed suit against Napolitano, alleging that Napolitano attempted to rape him and asked him for sexual favors in exchange for legal assistance. Also last year, a South Carolina man, Charles Corbishley, had sued Napolitano as well, saying that when he appeared in Napolitano's court in the 1980s, the judge offered him a lighter sentence in exchange for oral sex. Napolitano has denied all the allegations and filed a countersuit against Corbishley.
Regarding Fawcett's suit, Michael Sirota, an attorney for Napolitano, told NorthJersey.com that "Judge Napolitano emphatically denies harassment of any type whatsoever."
Fox News Network officials issued a statement saying Napolitano and the network had "parted ways" and that the company takes all allegations of harassment seriously and had addressed the matter with everyone involved. Sirota said Napolitano's departure came two months before the suit was filed and had nothing to do with the Fawcett's claims but took place as part of a routine contact expiration.
Fawcett's suit further alleges that Kudlow, for whom he has been an associate producer since February, "has used ethnic slurs and made sexually inappropriate comments about women in front of multiple staff members" and did not want U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida to appear on his show, Kudlow, because Donalds is Black. The congressman's appearance was canceled. Fawcett also claims that Stephanie Freeman, Kudlow's executive producer, and Jenna Strem, senior producer, routinely discriminated against men. Fox officials said all these allegations are baseless.