“I WAS MORTIFIED.” Bill O’Reilly accuser Perquita Burgess recounts the alleged sexual harassment by the former Fox News host. pic.twitter.com/PQEZQzP7eL
— The View (@TheView) April 20, 2017
She stated that O’Reilly’s alleged harassment began about a week and a half into the job. “He always walked past my desk and he made like a grunting noise,” Burgess said, though she initially brushed it off as a muscle spasm. “As time went on, I noticed … if no one was around he would make that noise.”
Burgess recalled another instance that occurred in an elevator about three or four weeks later. “He let me off first, as gentlemen usually do,” she said, “and I walked in front of him and as I was leaving the elevator, he said, ‘Looking good there, girl.’” She described these moments as “embarrassing,” “mortifying” and “street harassment in the office.”
O’Reilly’s alleged behavior, Burgess continued, escalated to leering at her as she sat at her desk. “I just stopped looking at him, paying him any attention,” she said, though “he had no reason to be at my desk at all.” In another instance, “he walks past and says, ‘Hey, Hot Chocolate.’ But he doesn’t look at me when he said it.”
“I didn’t respond,” she recalled. “I was mortified because not only was it sexual, I took that as a very plantational remark.” She further clarified that this harassment was different than when “someone pays you a compliment and they still treat you as a colleague.” O’Reilly was “grunting at me and groaning and leering.”
Burgess didn’t report the harassment to Fox because she wasn’t a full-time employee of the network and she didn’t notify her temp agency for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with Fox. Though, she “told friends and family” of the instances and left a digital trail on social media dating back to 2010.
RELATED VIDEO: Bill O’Reilly Out at Fox News After 20 Years amid Sexual Harassment Allegations
O’Reilly released the following statement on Wednesday in regards to allegations of sexual harassment and his departure from Fox News: “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.”
“I was tired of reliving the trauma every time I saw a woman speak out,” Burgess said of why she came forward recently. “I did not want to,” she added. “I was very afraid because I don’t want the skeptics … when people question it, it pisses you off.” When Fox formally announced O’Reilly would not return to the network, Burgess said she felt “triumphant.”
‘IT TOOK US 5 MINUTES — IT TOOK FOX 20 YEARS.’ Co-hosts look back on walking off a 2010 Bill O’Reilly interview, react the host’s ousting. pic.twitter.com/PvBNXoFTl4
— The View (@TheView) April 20, 2017
Before Whoopi Goldberg introduced Burgess and her lawyer Lisa Bloom to the show, she remarked how “years before Fox broke with Bill, we broke with Bill,” referring to O’Reilly’s 2010 appearance on The View when she and co-host Joy Behar stormed off the stage. “So it took us five minutes, it took Fox 20 years,” Goldberg added.
“You think this is gonna change anything?” she asked, noting how O’Reilly’s replacement in the 8 p.m. time slot, Tucker Carlson, once “said the concept of sexual harassment was made up by Democrats.” Sara Haines chimed in, “If this had not blown up publicly, we would not be sitting here. willing to resign him for the money, money, money even after knowing about these allegations.”
Sunny Hostin said that for there to be real change in the workplace, “you’ve got to have training,” an HR department with “real teeth” and a diversity officer with firing power.