News & Opinion | May 19, 2017 8:58 am

How Roger Ailes’ Death Affects Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

At least two pending cases where former Fox News CEO is directly named.

How Roger Ailes' Death Affects the Lawsuits Against Him
Outside the Fox News studios, a news ticker displays news of the passing of Roger Ailes, May 18, 2017 in New York City. Ailes, founder and ex-CEO of Fox News, passed away on Thursday morning at age 77. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The late Roger Ailes, former chairman and CEO of Fox News,  was embroiled in a number of sexual harassment lawsuits at the time of his death.

So what does that mean for his accusers?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ailes was named in two separate harassment lawsuits, one brought on by Julie Roginsky, a former Fox News contributor and another by Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News host. A third, brought by former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson was settled out of court. But as a source told the Journal, “21st Century Fox agreed to indemnify him against any settlements.”

That has a huge effect on the active lawsuits. As the Journal notes, the women will have to redirect their lawsuits against Ailes’ estate, the cases will be delayed, and it might be more difficult to collect evidence, given that Ailes’ estate would have to be subpoenaed.

However, the fact that Ailes is dead—and can’t speak for himself on the matters at hand—could lead to a faster settlement of the lawsuits for practical reasons.

And what about that federal securities fraud investigation of Fox concerning the funds used to settle harassment claims? According to a former federal prosecutor, Ailes’ death won’t affect that in the least.