Florida Man Sues Fox News For Outing Him In Battle Over Failed Reality Show

Network execs became suspicious of Silas Pierce representing himself as a married father of two.

A Florida man is suing Fox News and the estate of Roger Ailes for allegedly outing him during a legal fight over an aborted reality show.

In 2014, Leftfield Pictures, producers of American Restoration and Pawn Stars, convinced Fox News to pick up a show for its Fox Business Network about two families running an estate liquidation business in Florida.

Estate Sales would have been Fox Business’ first reality series, but network execs became suspicious of one of the families: Questions emerged about whether Silas Pierce was actually married to the woman claiming to be his wife, and if she was indeed his sons’ mother. (They also wondered why Pierce’s children referred to him by first name.)

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According to court papers, Leftfield reps told Fox that Silas was actually gay and had nine adopted children.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

FNN asked Leftfield for paperwork to show that the young men, Matt and AJ, were indeed Silas’ adopted sons because gays could not adopt in Florida in 2010.

Leftfield then claimed Silas had legal guardianship over the boys who had been adopted by his deceased parents. FNN eventually learned the truth: Silas had no legal relationship with Matt and AJ whom he falsely claimed to have adopted and that Silas’ parents were not dead but instead very much alive and living in Florida.”

Adding to the chaos was the fact that the other family presented in a sizzle reel were no longer part of Estate Sales because the father was being accused of molesting his son. Three months into production, Fox pulled out and demanded a return on its advance. Leftfield filed a $4.5 million lawsuit against the cable giant but in a countersuit, Fox alleged the production company was misrepresenting itself.

According to legal papers, Brian Gaffney, director of special programming at Fox Business, continually stressed to Leftfield that “any series FNN [Fox News Network] would obtain for FBN [Fox Business Network] had to meet higher editorial standards.”

Gaffney explained that FNN “is subject to more scrutiny than other media organizations and any faking, fudging or scripting could become a scandal tainting the FNN brand.”

Leftfield and Fox settled out of court in 2016, but now Pierce is suing Fox News, ex-president Bill Shine, and the late Roger Ailes for disclosing his homosexuality publicly during their court fight. He claims Ailes and Shine sent investigators to Maitland, Florida, to dig up dirt on him and his business.

“[Fox], Ailes and Shine then initiated a concerted scheme to discredit and vilify plaintiff Pierce and the business in an effort to bolster [Fox’s] settlement position in the Leftfield lawsuit, destroy Pierce’s reputation and that of the business, and justify [Fox’s] breach of its contract with Leftfield,” the suit states.

Pierce’s estate sale business was investigated by local news in 2015. He maintains Ailes and Shine colluded to publicize details of his life to support their countersuit, “including facts regarding Pierce’s sexual orientation and the legal relationship between Pierce and his sons.”

Pierce claims “significant damage” was done to his reputation, forcing him to close his business. He’s seeking damages in excess of $15,000 for publication of private facts, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract.

He also alleges he was never paid for his work on Estate Sales.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.