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Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly has filed a lawsuit and is demanding at least $5 million from Michael Panter, a former New Jersey politician who wrote on Facebook on Tuesday about an ex-girlfriend’s treatment by her then-colleague O’Reilly.
O’Reilly’s filing — a summons, but no full complaint as of yet — alleges that Panter defamed him.
“This action seeks redress for Defendant Panter’s intentional, malicious and bad faith actions in making defamatory and false statements in a publicly-available social media post,” the filing says.
The filing adds: “Plaintiff seeks damages for the public hatred, ridicule, disgrace and permanent harm to his professional and personal reputations as a result of Defendant Panter’s publication of knowingly false defamatory statements about Plaintiff, which were made with actual malice, as well as Defendant Panter’s intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Plaintiff.”
Panter, in a long post on Facebook, said his ex had “publicly” settled with O’Reilly and was therefore bound by a non-disclosure agreement (based on reports). He also detailed a call between O’Reilly and his then-girlfriend.
“[O’Reilly] explained that a new accuser was suing him for sexual harassment,” Panter wrote of the call. “This latest victim was someone my ex knew, and lived in the same complex. He got to the point immediately: give me anything you have on this woman, which we ‘can use against her.’ He asked if anything was known about her sex life. He asked if she used any illegal drugs. He also asked if anything was known about her financial situation and marriage. In essence, the leadership of Fox, including their ‘HR’ head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.”
Panter said that, in writing the post, “I am just trying as a man to call bullshit on another ‘man’ when I see it, and to do so publicly and non-anonymously.”
He has not responded to a Facebook message from The Hollywood Reporter, but released a statement on Friday evening defending his post, which he said he expects will be fully corroborated. “After discussing this matter with a leading firm, I believe there is a strong basis to bring defamation claims against Mr. O’Reilly,” he said in the statement. “It is my hope that course of action that course of action will not be necessary, and these matters can be resolved more amicably.”
On his digital news show Thursday night, O’Reilly told his viewers that he would sue anyone, going forward, that lies about him. “And I’m not a litigious guy,” he said. “But that’s my only recourse with the dishonest press in America. I just don’t have a shot. And I can, you know, only whine about things so much when people get tired of it. And so that’s where we are.”
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