Three weeks ago, a Nassau County Supreme Court justice ended a bitter three-year custody dispute between Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and his ex-wife, Maureen McPhilmy, by granting custody of the couple’s two minor children to McPhilmy. Though nearly all documents pertaining to New York family court cases are sealed, Gawker has learned that the justice in the case heard testimony accusing O’Reilly of physically assaulting his wife in the couple’s Manhasset home.
According to a source familiar with the facts of the case, a court-appointed forensic examiner testified at a closed hearing that O’Reilly’s daughter claimed to have witnessed her father dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck, apparently unaware that the daughter was watching. The precise date of the alleged incident is unclear, but appears to have occurred before the couple separated in 2010. The same source indicated that the daughter, who is 16 years old, told the forensic examiner about the incident within the past year.
Update, May 18: After this post was published, Bill O’Reilly denied the allegation of abuse, telling Politico’s Dylan Byers late Monday: “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.”
The apparent domestic violence assault would be the latest in a series of revelations about O’Reilly’s disturbing treatment of his family members, and his ex-wife in particular.
O’Reilly and McPhilmy separated in April 2010, after which McPhilmy began dating a Nassau County Police detective named Jeffrey Gross. Upon learning of their relationship, as Gawker reported in 2011, O’Reilly called up his high-placed connections within the NCPD to have something done about Gross. Since O’Reilly was helping raise money for the department’s associated charity, the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, his calls sparked an internal affairs investigation into Gross and his relationship with McPhilmy—an incredible waste of police resources, and a devious way of getting back at McPhilmy by harassing her new boyfriend.
The O’Reillys formalized their divorce in September 2011, and agreed to share custody of their school-aged children. As part of their agreement, the couple assigned a neutral therapist named Lynne Kulakowski to arbitrate any potential custodial disputes, should they happen to arise in the future. Shortly thereafter, however, McPhilmy learned that O’Reilly had in fact added Kulakowski to his household payroll so she could serve as a full-time nanny—in which capacity, as a judge later explained, she was required “to perform virtually all of [O’Reilly’s] parental duties.”
In a unanimous decision two years ago, a New York appeals court ruled that O’Reilly’s behavior “could undermine the integrity” of their joint-custody agreement and ordered a trial court to consider McPhilmy’s petition for sole custody.
While all of this was going on, as Gawker reported in March 2013, O’Reilly was trying to get McPhilmy excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church, in which the couple married in 1996. McPhilmy even received a letter from her local parish, another Long Island institution where O’Reilly enjoys influence, admonishing her for taking communion. (In the Church, divorcing and remarrying is considered a grave offense to God.) At the same time, O’Reilly was seeking a formal annulment—a procedure most commonly sought for marriages that last less than a year—for his and McPhilmy’s 15-year-long matrimony.
We were able corroborate the fact that the justice issued a decision in the case, and that O’Reilly has appealed it, at the Nassau County Clerk’s office in Mineola. Neither O’Reilly nor McPhilmy responded to requests for comment. A representative for Fox News Channel did not return messages.
O’Reilly’s lack of response is especially worth noting. The anchor has spent his highly remunerated career obsessing over patterns of violence among racial minorities, particularly black people, and the apparently unique effect of violence on the integrity of black families. As he fulminated on-air in December 2014: “The astronomical crime rate among young black men—violent crime—drives suspicion and hostility. ... No supervision, kids with no fathers—the black neighborhoods are devastated by the drug gangs who prey upon their own. That’s the problem!”
Or, as O’Reilly claimed in August: “The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family.”