Former PBS host Tavis Smiley is fighting back against sexual misconduct allegations, accusing PBS of a conducting a “biased and sloppy” investigation.
The network suspended the “Tavis Smiley” show on Wednesday after former staffers accused the interviewer of inappropriate behavior.
According to Variety, the longtime PBS host had sexual relationships with many employees and was accused of “creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment” in the workplace. Some of the employees who accused the “Dancing with the Stars” alum were reportedly afraid to come forward sooner over fear of losing their job.
“PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” the network announced in a statement.
“PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”
Not only did Smiley deny the allegations, he said PBS didn’t even tell what the accusations were or who made them.
“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” his statement said, in part. “Never. Ever. Never.”
Smiley said that after he threatened to file a lawsuit, the network agreed to hear his side of the story.
“If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Varietyas an ‘exclusive.’ Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting,” the statement continued.
Smiley stated that “PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgement.”
Read his entire statement here.
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