Media Note: Second Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment at ABC 22/Fox 44 | Off Message

Media Note: Second Woman Alleges Sexual Harassment at ABC 22/Fox 44


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Two women say they were victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination while working at local Vermont TV stations ABC 22/Fox 44.

The Burlington Free Press reported in March that Catherine Iraheta, a former sales and marketing executive, had sued the stations’ owner, Nexstar Broadcasting, and its former general manager Craig Marrs. On Monday, the Free Press reported that a second former employee, Desiree Roberts, is seeking to join the suit. Both are represented by attorney John Stasny.

Iraheta's suit describes a “good old boys’ club” atmosphere and claims that Marrs complimented her legs and, while staring at her breasts, asked if she was wearing a bathing suit. After she complained to the human resources department, the suit claims that Iraheta experienced retaliation and was ultimately forced to resign.

Roberts, who worked as a photographer and backup director for the stations from November 2017 until this summer, claimed that Marrs berated her during a meeting after she made complaints about anchor Michael Hoey-Lukakis, who she said made derogatory comments about women and graphic sexual insults. She, too, said she was effectively forced to resign.

Marrs retired earlier this year and did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. Reached by email, Hoey-Lukakis, who is not named as a defendant in the suit but is accused of misconduct, said he could not comment.

In a statement, Nexstar’s senior vice president and regional manager Theresa Underwood denied the allegations and criticized the Free Press story.

Quoting the lawsuit and the proposed amendment to the complaint, the article "presents an inaccurate and sensationalized summary of unsworn allegations made by two women who were briefly employed at different times by" ABC 22/Fox 44, Underwood said. "Nexstar is vigorously defending against the allegations made by the plaintiff in the first lawsuit, and intends to vigorously contest the allegations made in the proposed amended complaint if the amendment is allowed by the court."

Read the full complaint below: