After being fired by Minnesota Public Radio for sexual misconduct in November, Garrison Keillor defended himself by saying it was because he accidentally put his hand up a woman’s shirt and touched her back. No, it wasn’t.
The Washington Post reports that MPR president Jon McTaggart has released a letter to members that provides some clarity about what exactly Keillor is accused of. The company hired an outside investigator to look into claims against Keillor, and there were dozens of them from one woman as well as a complaint from another person with awareness of her situation:
The woman who made the allegations worked for Garrison on A Prairie Home Companion, which was produced by Garrison’s media companies. In the allegations she provided to MPR, she did not allege that Garrison touched her back, but did claim that he engaged in other unwanted sexual touching. In a letter to MPR dated October 22, 2017, the woman’s attorney described dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents directed at her client over a period of years. In fact, the woman’s attorney presented us with a 12-page letter detailing many of the alleged incidents, including excerpts of emails and written messages, requests for sexual contact and explicit descriptions of sexual communications and touching.
In an email to The Washington Post, Keillor again said that touching the unnamed woman’s bare back was the only contact they ever shared:
“My touching her bare shoulder once was the only physical contact between her and me that could be considered harassing. It was a blue blouse, split up the back, and I put my hand on her back, to reassure her that her work was okay, and my hand slid up inside the blouse a few inches and touched her bare shoulder. I apologized for this in an email and she said, ‘I forgave you for that, don’t think about it.’”
Keillor has also taken MPR to task for character assassination and firing him without trial, i.e. the usual “witch hunt” language. McTaggart’s letter claims he spoke with Keillor privately and then Keillor ran to the media the next day to spread the back touching story. MPR has caught considerable heat from its members, many of whom are passionate fans of Keillor.
“The irony is that while MPR has been careful to protect Garrison’s privacy and not hurry any decisions, others have rushed to judge and criticize MPR’s actions without knowing the facts,” he writes.
The unnamed woman isn’t the only person to report Keillor’s workplace behavior; MPR News reported that in 2012 he “wrote and publicly posted in his bookstore an off-color limerick about a young woman who worked there and the effect she had on his state of arousal.” He was also accused by a former employee named Patricia McFadden of age and sex discrimination. She sued MPR in 1999 when she was fired and replaced with a younger woman at Keillor’s request
Keillor told MPR News, “I’ll be able to tell my side of the story at length, in my own words, in due course, and that’s sufficient for me.”