06:44pm, 05/25/17

Bill O'Reilly 'disheartened' over departure from Fox News 'due to completely unfounded claims'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Bill O'Reilly has responded to news that he will not be returning to his top-rated Fox News Channel show The O'Reilly Factor, saying "it is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."

"That is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today," he said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier on Wednesday, Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel."

O'Reilly said that over his 20-year career he has "been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television."

"I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers," O'Reilly said. "I wish only the best for Fox News Channel."

The host has been dogged by misconduct claims -- some sexual in nature -- since an April 1 story in The New York Times detailed alleged settlements made between the host and five women who accused him of harassment and sexual misconduct.

ABC News has not been able to independently verify the claims made in the Times story.

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