Radio host Garrison Keillor was fired from his position at Minnesota Public Radio after facing unspecified accusations of sexual misconduct. The 'Prairie Home Companion' founder is continuing to deny the allegations about his “years-long pattern of behavior," now claiming that one incident in question was merely "a flirtation between two writers that took place in writing," according to The Washington Post.
When Keillor was originally faced with accusations, he surmised the situation pertained to an incident in which he “put [his] hand on a woman’s bare back."
“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches," he said at the time. "She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
MPR later explained that their decision to fire Keillor was based on numerous accusations of “unwanted sexual touching,” “requests for sexual contact” and sexually explicit messages, The Washington Post reported. An internal MPR investigation confirmed through interviews with Keillor's colleagues that the personality had "left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled.”
Keillor has continued to minimize the extent of his misconduct in on-the-record statements.
“No button was unbuttoned and no zipper was unzipped,” Keillor told the Associated Press. “I never kissed her."
“We were two writers and we wrote back and forth and sometimes we slipped into what one could call them romantic writing,” he continued. “But this was between two people who hardly ever laid eyes on each other. She was never required to be in the office.”
“Use any word you want to describe it you want to, I plead guilty,” he said in a Star Tribune interview. “Stupid? Yes, in retrospect. But it was mutual. And it is kind of a function of the ease of this dreamy technology,” he said, referring to smartphones.
The woman Keillor is discussing has not been publicly named. In statements to the AP, the woman said that Keillor “had the power to provide or take away job assignments and opportunities ... [and] acknowledged several times that power imbalance between us, recognizing how his conduct could be offensive when it was coming from the person for whom I work."
“He was my mentor and employer,” she continued. “As such, he had power over me. Every time I said ‘no’ or tried to avoid him I feared I was saying ‘no’ to my future.”
The woman's attorney has discussed the importance of enforcing policies pertaining to sexual harassment.
“This is the exact reason there are laws that protect employees from being subjected to situations they don’t feel comfortable in but feel compelled to comply with,” said Frances Baillon to The Star Tribune.
MPR has stood by their decision to fire Keillor amidst Keillor's refutation of the events as described by his victims.
“Our decision was not based on flirtations or fantasies, but based on facts confirming unacceptable behavior in the workplace by a person in a position of power over someone who worked for him," MPR said in a statement.
[Photo: Getty Images]