Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has lost custody of his two teenage children after they reportedly said they would prefer to live with their mother following an alleged domestic violence incident, according to court documents.
As reported by Gawker, Mr O’Reilly’s two children, 13 and 17, will live full time with his ex-wife Maureen McPhilmy.
The decision taken by a Nassau County Supreme Court justice last year that the children should live with their mother was appealed by the news host to delay its enforcement.
According to the 1,400 word opinion issued on 24 February, the court’s four justices unanimously ruled in his ex-wife’s favour based upon “the clearly stated preferences of the children” and the “quality of the home environment provided by the mother”.
Mr O’Reilly’s 17-year-old daughter told a court-appointed forensic examiner last year that she saw her father dragging her mother down a staircase by the neck.
He responded to Politico in May last year: “All allegations against me in these circumstances are 100% false. I am going to respect the court-mandated confidentiality put in place to protect my children and will not comment any further.”
Court transcripts seen by Gawker allegedly revealed that his daughter also considered Mr O’Reilly as an absentee parent who was not interested in developing a relationship with her and struggled to control his rage, which she found “scary”.
He also allegedly told his daughter that her mother was an “adulterer”.
The court decided that the parents would share custody over issues like which schools the children should attend, which medical care they receive and the religion they practise – he has strong connections with the Catholic Church. Mr O’Reilly had previously insisted he had sole legal custody for those matters.
A court docket shown by Gawker suggests that Mr O’Reilly is still fighting against the verdict and is pursuing contempt of court charges against his ex-wife. It is not known why he believes Ms McPhilmy has violated the court’s instructions.
Mr O’Reilly was accused of sexual harassment in 2004 by former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris – he allegedly bragged about attending a sex show in Thailand and insisted that she masturbate over the phone with a vibrator. Mr O’Reilly reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Mackris.