Categorised in: Entertainment
New witnesses have detailed sexual misconduct allegations against former PBS talk-show host, Tavis Smiley, according to court documents.
New details revealed in papers filed in Washington on Tuesday said that witnesses spoke to an independent investigator and corroborated initial accounts that Smiley had established a pattern of sexual relationships with subordinates.
The documents also stated that Smiley, who reportedly created an abusive and threatening workplace, would subject subordinates to unwanted sexual advances — including requests for specific sex acts — and made lewd jokes.
“Over a dozen individuals reported that they were either subjected to or witnessed unwelcome, inappropriate sexual comments or conduct or otherwise inappropriate behavior by Mr. Smiley or were informed of the misconduct contemporaneously,” the court filing read.
Representatives for Smiley defended the former host in a statement to the Associated Press which read: “More lies, half-truths and smears from PBS from an ‘investigation’ that never should have happened, with a result that was decided well before the inquiry was even begun.”
In February, Smiley filed a lawsuit against PBS, accusing the network of “racially hostile” behavior, after his show was pulled from the lineup due to accusations of sexual misconduct back in December.
According to the Associated Press, many of the witnesses were women of color, refuting Smiley’s accusations against the network, that racial bias was involved in his firing.
The 53-year-old, whose show first aired in 2004, also argued that the network did not do a thorough investigation and used the scandal as an excuse to get rid of him after an already “deteriorating” relationship.
“Based on this incomplete, trumped-up investigation, and in violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, PBS decided to use a technical provision in its contract with TSM to stop distributing Tavis Smiley – the only nightly television show featuring a person of color as the host,” the suit read. “With the relationship already having deteriorated, this allegation gave PBS executives a pretext to finally rid themselves of Mr. Smiley who was not the ‘team player’ type of African-American personality PBS preferred to have hosting a nightly national news and public affairs program.”
While Smiley’s lawsuit reportedly seeks “multiple millions” in damages, PBS seeks $1.9 million in returned salary for their former host.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.