A woman who accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual abuse has filed a lawsuit against the producers of an upcoming Showtime Networks miniseries, claiming that it portrays her in a way that perpetuates lies about her activities and her character.
The accuser, former Fox News employee Laurie Luhn, is represented in the lawsuit by attorney Larry Klayman, a frequent advocate for conservative causes, and names Showtime and Blumhouse Productions as defendants in the case.
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Delaware federal court, alleges that Showtime and Blumhouse violated federal trademark law by using an inaccurate portrayal of Luhn from Gabriel Sherman’s 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” in the making of an eight-part miniseries by the same title.
According to the complaint, Ailes, who died in 2017, had forced Luhn to perform oral sex and participate in other sexual acts, while wielding his power and influence in a “psychosexual torture” campaign that lasted for years. But Klayman said Sherman’s book instead falsely painted Luhn as having sent women to Ailes office for “after hours” encounters.
Klayman, the founder of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, said he had reached out to attorneys for Showtime and Blumhouse to “resolve serious matters” related to Luhn’s portrayal but was rebuffed by their attorneys.
The suit seeks $750 million in damages and a court order barring Showtime from airing the series.
“At no time did plaintiff ever give permission to defendants, any of them, to use plaintiff’s rights or otherwise to associate with, advertise, market, promote and sell defendants’ miniseries, commercial products, or for any other purpose,” Klayman wrote in the 25-page filing. “Nor did she give defendant Sherman in particular the right to use her likeness and being to produce a manuscript and script of her life story to sell to the other defendants to line his own pockets.”
A spokeswoman for Showtime declined to comment, and a representative for Blumhouse did not respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment on the suit.
Sherman could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the complaint, Ailes required Luhn during her time at Fox to wear black garters and stockings, which he referred to as her “uniform,” and kept compromising photographs of Luhn in order to keep her in line.
All the while, the filing alleged, Ailes also played the role of Luhn’s mentor in an effort to confuse and manipulator her.
When Ailes became embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in 2004, Ailes and his “inner circle” actively worked to pre-empt future threats of litigation by spreading rumors and alienating Luhn from her co-workers and company management, Klayman said. At one point during her tenure, Ailes ordered Luhn to sell her apartment in Washington, D.C., and move to New York so he could “monitor her and control and use her.”
“Plaintiff was a classic victim of Stockholm Syndrome,” Klayman said. “This was part of a diagnosis by plaintiff’s psychiatrist, and one that she has continued to suffer as a result of years of abuse and conflicting messages from Ailes.”
Ailes resigned from Fox in 2016 in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.
The press office of Fox News, which is not named as a defendant, did not respond Wednesday to an email requesting comment about the complaint.
The suit alleges two violations of the Lanham Act, the primary federal statute governing trademarks, service marks and unfair competition. It also accuses Showtime, Blumhouse and Sherman of negligence and unjust enrichment for profiting off of their supposedly unlawful acts.
The miniseries, in which actress Annabelle Wallis plays Luhn, is set to air later this year, though Showtime has not yet announced a date for the show’s premiere.
The case, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, is captioned Luhn v. Showtime.