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Fox reaches $2.5 million settlement over latest sexual assault claims

A former Fox News contributor alleges a VP tried to force her into giving him oral sex.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Mar 9, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 9:19 pm CDT

21st Century Fox has reached another multi-million-dollar settlement regarding sexual assault allegations, proving the dust has yet to settle around the Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal from last summer.

According to the New York Times, 21st Century Fox reached the $2.5 million settlement with a former Fox News contributor Tamara N. Holder in February. She claims Francisco Cortes, the vice president for Fox News Latino, tried to force her into performing oral sex on him when they were alone in his office.

According to documents from Holder’s lawyers, Cortes had invited her into his office, shut the door, and poured shots of tequila for each of them. That’s when Cortes moved toward her chair, held the door closed with his left hand, and pushed Holder’s mouth toward his penis with his right hand, which he had taken out of his pants. Holder then fled the room.

The settlement follows two other settlements and three allegations made against Ailes and Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly. Both men have denied the sexual harassment claims against them.

Holder, a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, said she didn’t initially report the incident to Fox News for various reasons, including that she had been denied earlier requests to meet with executives, and her previous complaints had gone unresolved. However, she felt emboldened after Ailes’s ousting under ex-Fox News host Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment claims.

However, once she came forward with her claims last September, save for details of what happened and who was involved, 21st Century Fox offered her $300,000 severance. She rejected the offer, then disclosed the details of her allegation against Cortes in October. Fox News investigated the claims and fired Cortes days later, the Times reported.

People close to the matter said Holder initially struggled with the idea of abiding by confidentiality agreements, and considered taking the case to trial or writing a book instead. Beyond a joint statement released by her and Fox News, Holder isn’t allowed to discuss her claims.

“Moving forward, I hope that my ‘toxicity’ has transformed into authenticity and that my career is not over,” Holder said in an email to the Times as part of her statement. “I hope that every man, woman, and child who has been sexually assaulted, or a victim of any crime for that matter, comes to the realization that they have not done anything wrong; they are not toxic.”

Read the full report from the New York Times here.

Update, March 9, 2pm CT: FOX News and former FOX News contributor Tamara Holder released the following statement: “In September 2016, Fox News contributor Tamara Holder reported an incident of sexual assault at Fox News headquarters from the prior year. Immediately after Ms. Holder notified Fox News of the alleged incident, the Company promptly investigated the matter and took decisive action, for which Ms. Holder thanks the network. Following the completion of her contract on January 1, 2017, Ms. Holder left the network. Fox News is grateful to Ms. Holder for her many contributions during her tenure at the network and wishes her continued success.”

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*First Published: Mar 9, 2017, 10:40 am CST