Fox hit with $48M lawsuit for allegedly scapegoating executive in sexual harassment scandal

Roger Ailes' reign at Fox News engendered numerous discrimination and harassment claims upon 21st Century Fox, but on Tuesday, the Rupert Murdoch company got hit with a different kind of lawsuit. This one comes from a television executive accused of sexually assaulting an on-air contributor.

Francisco Cortes, a former vice president at Fox News Latino, states in a complaint filed in New York federal court that he "served as a useful 'scapegoat' for Fox to demonstrate that it aggressively handles sexual harassment complaints, as part of a carefully orchestrated plan to permit the Murdochs to eliminate concerns in the U.K. regarding their $15.2 Billion acquisition of Sky in the U.K., and to protect the identity and shelter the reputations of the two unknown persons who, it must be assumed, were, unlike Mr. Cortes, not Latino, and not financially insignificant to Fox."

In March, TheNew York Times' Emily Steel reported that Fox had reached a $2.5 million settlement with Tamara Holder to resolve claims that Cortes had forced himself upon her. It was added that Cortes was close to Ailes.

See photos of Roger Ailes:

24 PHOTOS
Roger Ailes through the years
See Gallery
Roger Ailes through the years
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: In this handout photo provided by FOX News, FOX News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is photographed November 13, 2015 at the networks Manhattan headquarters New York City. (Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)
Bill O'Reilly, tv columnist, at left, shown here with Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of FOX tv at the Radio & TV Correspondents annual dinner held at the Washington Hilton. (Photo by Susan Biddle/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
SLUG: ST/AILES DATE: 3/23/99 NP PHOTOG: Helayne Seidman/FTWP multi use LOCATION: Fox News, 1211 6th Ave. NYC SUMMARY: Roger Ailes, president of Fox TV CAPTION: Roger Ailes, president of Fox TV, in the Fox TV control room. Original Filename: npsent.JPG ORG XMIT: ; 29
385602 07: Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, right, testifies during a hearing on election night 2000 coverage by the networks before the House committee on energy and commerce February 14, 2001 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. Heads of major news organizations have converged on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress, explaining the mistaken calls made on Election Night and promising changes to prevent further errors. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 25: Chairman and CEO of the Fox News Network Roger Ailes participates in the 'America's Best Leaders: How do they lead? Where are they taking us?' National Issues Briefing hosted by U.S. News and World Report October 25, 2005 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The talk was held in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images for U.S. News and World Report)
NEW YORK - JUNE 26: (L-R) Variety Editor Peter Bart and Producer Roger Ailes attend a cocktail party hosted by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Miramax Books to celebrate Peter Bart's new book ''BOFFO'' on June 26, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JULY 24: Chairman & CEO, FOX News Roger Ailes from 'Fox News' speaks onstage during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour for the FOX Broadcasting Company at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on July 24, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Roger Ailes, president of FOX News, poses with his wife Elizabeth on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Fox News President Roger Ailes attends the Hollywood Reporter celebrates 'The 35 Most Powerful People in Media' at the Four Season Grill Room on April 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: In this handout photo provided by FOX News, FOX News Channel Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is photographed November 13, 2015 at the networks Manhattan headquarters New York City. (Photo by Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images)
Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News and Fox Television Stations, answers questions during a panel discussion at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, California July 24, 2006. Picture taken July 24, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo
Fox News chief and CEO Roger Ailes speaks during a panel session titled "Democracy and the Media: Are They Compatible?" at the 2005 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills April 19, 2005. The Milken Institute is an independent economic think tank, which works to improve the lives and economic conditions of diverse populations in the United States and around the world. REUTERS/Fred Prouser FSP/JK
News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch (R) speaks at a press conference in New York January 30 where it was announced that cable-TV figure Roger Ailes (L) would head the new Fox 24-hour news network. Murdoch said he would spend $80 million a year on the project which will compete with CNN and similar networks planned by ABC and NBC
Prominent cable-TV figure Roger Ailes appears at a press conference in New York January 30 where he was named to head the new Fox 24-hour news network. News Corporation chief Rupert-Murdoch, who made the announcement, said he would spend $80 million a year on the project
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 19: Fox News chairman Roger Ailes walks with his wife Elizabeth Tilson as they leave the News Corp building, July 19, 2016 in New York City. As of late Tuesday afternoon, Ailes and 21st Century Fox are reportedly in discussions concerning his departure from his position as chairman of Fox News. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 08: Janice Min and Roger Ailes attend 'The 35 Most Powerful People In Media' celebrated by The Hollywoood Reporter at Four Seasons Restaurant on April 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 07: Elizabeth Tilson Ailes and Television Producer Roger Ailes attend the Carnegie Hall 125th Season Opening Night Gala at Carnegie Hall on October 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: President of FOX News Roger Ailes attends the 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' New York premiere at SVA Theater on February 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30: Roger Ailes attends Erica Rivera's 40th Birthday hosted by Geraldo Rivera at Monkey Bar on January 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Geraldo Rivera)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30: Roger Ailes, Alisyn Camerota and Geraldo Rivera attend Erica Rivera's 40th Birthday hosted by Geraldo Rivera at Monkey Bar on January 30, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Geraldo Rivera)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: In this handout image provided by FOX News Channel, FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (C) as well as featured keynote speakers, Roy Eaton (L), advertising pioneer and L. Douglas Wilder, former Governor of Virginia attend the Ailes Apprentice Program graduation at FOX News Channel headquarters on November 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by FOX News Channel via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: In this handout image provided by FOX News Channel, FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (C) as well as featured keynote speakers, Roy Eaton (not pictured), advertising pioneer and L. Douglas Wilder (not pictured), former Governor of Virginia attend the Ailes Apprentice Program graduation at FOX News Channel headquarters on November 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by FOX News Channel via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Kreskin and Chairman Fox News and Fox Television Stations Roger Ailes attend the 'Conversations With Kreskin' Book Launch Celebration at Patsy's on November 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

According to Cortes' new $48 million lawsuit, Holder's settlement in February included not only him but two other unnamed individuals. The deal is also said to have had a mutual non-disparagement provision.

"Nevertheless, a mere two weeks later, Tamara Holder and Fox delivered a previously planned and carefully negotiated joint statement to TheNew York Times regarding the allegations, in violation of their obligations," continues the complaint.

Cortes alleges that the leak to TheNew York Times destroyed his reputation and irreparably damaged his career opportunities.

His complaint adds: "They did this knowing that Mr. Cortes would, due to his own contractual obligations pursuant to the Tamara Holder and two unknown persons agreement, be forced to either violate those obligations, inviting litigation...or remain silent before a national/international press onslaught against him regarding the allegations, which he vehemently denies, but could not then deny via the press because his hands had been tied...."

The lawsuit makes an issue of how TheNew York Times didn't disclose the identities of the other two individuals and how Steele was formerly employed by The Wall Street Journal, a publication owned by the Murdochs. Cortes is suggesting "an intentional and well orchestrated plan" that was allegedly perpetrated in conjunction with Paul Weiss, the law firm that Fox had hired to investigate sexual harassment at its cable news network.

He's suing for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, conspiracy to defraud, tortious interference and various counts of defamation. He's demanding actual damages in excess of $12 million and punitive damages in excess of $36 million.

We've reached out to Fox for comment.

Women who have left FOX News:
8 PHOTOS
Women who have left Fox News
See Gallery
Women who have left Fox News

Megan Kelly

(Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) MEGYN KELLY

Gretchen Carlson

(Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Variety)

Greta van Susteren

(Photo by: William B. Plowman/MSNBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Andrea Tantaros

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Laurie Dhue

(Photo by D Dipasupil/WireImage)

Elisabeth Hasselbeck 

(Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

Alisyn Camerota 

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.