Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is suing his ex-wife for $10 million, but the details of the suit are currently sealed from the public by a judge’s order.
According to LawNewz.com, the complaint in O’Reilly’s case against ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy does not appear online, but in its place is a vague notice that the case centers around allegations that McPhilmy defrauded O’Reilly during their divorce proceedings.
McPhilmy, O’Reilly charges, was engaged in an “existing extra-marital relationship” during their divorce negotiations in 2009. The summons says, “Plaintiff [O’Reilly] alleges that Defendant [McPhilmy] knowingly made false representations and material omissions of existing fact to Plaintiff, upon which Plaintiff justifiably relied to his extreme detriment, for the sole purpose of inducing Plaintiff to agree to a consensual divorce and to obtain money and real property to finance an existing extra-marital relationship.”
O’Reilly convinced Judge Roy Mahon of the Tenth Judicial District (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) that the details of the suit should be kept secret and that — under the terms of their 2009 separation agreement — both O’Reilly and McPhilmy are “contractually obligated not to disclose information related to this dispute as they agreed it is in the best interests of their children, which overcomes the right of public access to records.”
O’Reilly also expressed to the judge that his notoriety as a media figure means that the details of the divorce warrant extra protection from public scrutiny due to the “extreme emotional distress” his family could be exposed to should they become public knowledge.
It is very unusual for an entire civil case to be made secret. Gawker filed a motion to intervene and vacate the sealing order on Tuesday. O’Reilly’s deadline to respond is Aug. 17.
Gawker has previously obtained and published snippets of information from the case, including allegations of violent and abusive behavior by O’Reilly toward McPhilmy and news that O’Reilly took steps to undermine the career of McPhilmy’s new husband — Nassau County Police Department detective Jeffrey Gross.
O’Reilly came under fire this week when he took exception to First Lady Michelle Obama’s address to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. At one of the speech’s most resonant moments, Obama said, “I wake up every day in a house built by slaves.”
The next night on his Fox News program, O’Reilly argued that those slaves were “well-feed and had decent lodgings provided by the government.”
The pushback was swift and fierce, which sent O’Reilly into a mawkish bout of self-pity. On his show the next night, he said the liberal media was trying to “destroy” him and Fox News.
Fox News is currently in turmoil after allegations of sexual harassment forced CEO Roger Ailes to step down. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Ailes for repeated inappropriate advances, a number of women have come forward to say that there is a pervasive culture of sexist, demeaning behavior toward women at the network.
O’Reilly himself was accused of harassment in 2004 — during his marriage to McPhilmy — by former employee Andrea Mackriss. According to Mackriss, O’Reilly would continually harass her and subject her to pornographically detailed accounts of sexual acts he would like to perform on her.
Once, when she was off duty, O’Reilly called her at home while masturbating and penetrating himself with a vibrator, according to court documents.
O’Reilly and the network settled with Mackriss out of court.