Garrison Keillor’s “inappropriate behavior” detailed in new report
Garrison Keillor, the creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion, was fired from Minnesota Public Radio following accusations of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.” In a statement in response, Keillor described the behavior in question as an isolated incident, saying, “I put my 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.” However, a letter sent on Tuesday from network president Jon McTaggart to MPR members says:
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. Because of the serious and sensitive nature of the allegations, we decided to undertake an independent investigation and we told Garrison that we were doing so.
Beginning in November 2017, the investigator reviewed documents and interviewed employees of Garrison’s companies, MPR employees, and others for information about the allegations. Most importantly, before we made the decision to end our relationship with Garrison’s companies, Garrison was asked for his response to the specific allegations, including alleged sexual contact and communications, and he responded to the allegations while accompanied by his attorney.
The contents of the 12-page letter have not been made available to the public, nor has the name of the woman who made the allegations.
MPR News is also investigating a separate list of alleged inappropriate workplace behavior by Keillor. “None of those incidents figure in the ‘inappropriate behavior’ cited by MPR when it severed business ties,” they say. The alleged incidents include:
• In 2009, a subordinate who was romantically involved with Keillor received a check for $16,000 from his production company and was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement which, among other things, barred her from ever divulging personal or confidential details about him or his companies. She declined to sign the agreement, and never cashed the check.
• In 2012, Keillor 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.
• A producer fired from The Writer’s Almanac in 1998 sued MPR, alleging age and sex discrimination, saying Keillor habitually bullied and humiliated her and ultimately replaced her with a younger woman.
• A 21-year-old college student received an email in 2001 in which Keillor, then her writing instructor at the University of Minnesota, revealed his “intense attraction” to her.
More than 60 people were interviewed for the report, which you can read in full via MPR News.