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When the Police Athletic League announced Bill O'Reilly two weeks ago as the speaker of his monthly business luncheon, the organizers hoped that the conservative writer and former Fox News host would attract a lot of people and reap the benefits. significant amounts.
But the invitation led a board member to resign and drew criticism from the National Organization for Women. On Monday night, after the New York Times asked about O'Reilly's appearance, the organization suddenly pulled out of Tuesday's protest and said it would not accept any money raised. said Executive Director Frederick J. Watts.
"We want stakeholders to bring light and goodwill to P.A.L.," said Watts. "This speaker was distracting and seemed to defeat this purpose. It's not much more complicated than that.
Mr. O & # 39; Reilly was expelled from his job at Fox in 2017 after the Times report he had been accused of sexual harassment by five women. His accusers have agreed not to prosecute or adjudicate charges for payments totaling approximately $ 13 million from the network or from Mr. O'Reilly.
Mr. O'Reilly's departure contributed to the inauguration of the # MeToo movement and, since then, more than 200 powerful men In several industries, their positions have been lost as a result of allegations of sexual harassment.
The Police Athletic League is a 100-year-old organization closely linked to the New York Police Department, which organizes extracurricular and recreational activities for children. His motto is "The best friend that a child can have" and the police commissioner is honorary chair of the board. The league also lists a number of municipal agencies and law enforcement agencies. as partners. In 2016, he reported more than $ 28 million in total revenue.
Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Women's Organization in New York and commissioner of the city's commission for gender equality, said she had invited Mr. O. Reilly to speak at the Fundraising lunch organized by the football league to send a wrong message to the young people of the city. .
"It's grotesque," said Ossorio. "Of course, as a model for positive manhood, few people could fail the test as clearly as Bill O'Reilly."
Mr. O'Reilly did not respond to an email requesting comments. Last week he told a gossip columnist"Police Sports League is expensive."
Since 2017, O'Reilly has been involved, continues to write a bestseller series and speaks to his nearly five million followers the next day. Twitter and Facebook as well as by his own website. O'Reilly is currently working on a book about President Trump.
Before the P.A.L. The police commissioner and the general counsel for Manhattan decided not to attend the meeting, citing time conflicts, spokesmen for the two officials said. They declined to say whether Mr. O'Reilly's presence at the event had been a factor in their decisions.
Two league council members have recently resigned, and one of them quoted O'Reilly's speech as a reason, according to a news release from P.A.L. Vice President, John A. Catsimatidis. He refused to appoint this board member.
Catsimatidis, a Republican who is a major political campaigner and played a key role in O'Reilly's invitation, defended the decision, dismissing concerns over allegations of sexual harassment in the US. past. His motive, he said, was simply to sell tickets.
"My colleagues and I decide who are the best sellers and the easiest sellers to sell the crowd," he said. "It's all about children."
Mr. Catsimatidis stated that Mr. O'Reilly informed him that he was "never convicted" of mistreating women and that he agreed to pay the rules as he saw fit. "He never pleaded guilty and we still live in America where you are innocent until proven guilty," said Catsimatidis.
Mr. Catsimatidis declared P.A.L. received a donation from Mr. O'Reilly on Monday morning, a rarity for someone who is already giving his time and star energy to sell lunch tickets, he said.
Mr. Catsimatidis also suggested that the complaints about the speech may be part of an effort orchestrated by outside agitators to provoke discontent, but did not provide details or evidence.
"Who pays these people to brew the pot?" Asked he.