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Fox News’ director of booking Laurie Luhn told New York magazine this summer that she was one of the many women sexually harassed by the network’s former CEO Roger Ailes. She recently spoke out again, in her first TV interview, with 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas, explaining why she succumbed to Ailes‘ alleged demands for sexual favors during their 20-year “secret relationship.” A clip from that interview aired on Friday’s Good Morning America.
Luhn told met Ailes when she was 28 and he was already a powerful media consultant. She wanted to work for him and introduced herself. He later invited her for an interview, but, Luhn told Vargas, she believes in that meeting he was trying to get a sense of her vulnerabilities.
“I think that he wanted to gauge what kind of person I was. If I was insecure. If I was looking for a daddy figure,” she said. “I was insecure.”
Ailes offered her a job doing research and asked her to meet him at his hotel room one night. He told her to strip down to her lingerie and dance for him and then asked her to perform a sex act.
“He would have me get down on my knees and tell me, ‘You’re going to do whatever I tell you to do at any time,'” she told Vargas. “I never questioned it and that was his big thing. ‘Never question what I ask you to do, Laurie.'”
That interaction began a “secret relationship,” as Vargas called it, that lasted on-and-off for more than 20 years.
When asked why she went along with his demands, Luhn said, “It’s not like I was able to go and consult or cry on the shoulder of some friend. I was completely isolated.”
She looked aghast at the idea that anyone would refuse Ailes when Vargas asked why she didn’t say no or complain.
“Have you ever seen Roger Ailes when he’s unhappy? It’s not a good sight to see. It’s pretty scary,” she said.
Luhn, who complained about sexual harassment in an internal email toward the end of her time at the network — with Fox News paying her more than $3 million in a separation agreement — said she was able to come forward after many other women also detailed similar experiences with Ailes.
“I think that I went through such hell for so many years, I finally felt safe when I saw that other women were speaking up,” Luhn said.
In a statement to ABC News, Ailes said, “Ms. Luhn is someone who I once regarded as a friend and someone I helped for many years. The stories she is telling now are fabrications built on half-truths and outright lies and I can only assume are opportunistically intended to thrust her back into the limelight at my expense.”
Luhn’s full story, as well as Gretchen Carlson’s first TV interview since she sued Ailes, will air Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC’s 20/20.
Watch the GMA clip below.
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