*There’s more bad news for Tavis Smiley regarding his sexual misconduct allegations which caused him to lose his association with PBS at the end of 2017.
The network has responded to his breach-of-contract lawsuit. In papers filed in Superior Court in Washington, D.C., PBS said more witnesses spoke to an independent investigator and corroborated initial accounts that Smiley had established a pattern of sexual relationships with subordinates.
The court papers also said he subjected 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 said.
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Meanwhile, Smiley and his legal reps stuck by their denials.
“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,” they said Friday in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
PBS said it also found further evidence that Smiley created an abusive and threatening workplace, often belittling and cursing subordinates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Many of the witnesses were women of color, the documents say, pushing back against comments from Smiley, who is black, that racial bias was involved in his firing.
At the time of his suspension, Smiley acknowledged having had a sexual relationship with a colleague but said he had done nothing to deserve the “public humiliation and personal destruction” he was undergoing.
Smiley’s lawsuit, which seeks “multiple millions” in damages, also alleged that the PBS investigation was shoddy and poorly executed, and his dismissal was hasty.
PBS, in the answer and counterclaim, says those assertions in televised interviews after his suspension constituted a breach of contract by Smiley, who had agreed not to cast aspersions on his employer.
“PBS acted at all times justifiably, in good faith, and with reasonable care and diligence,” the filing said.
And for good measure, PBS wants $1.9 in returned salary from Smiley.
PBS aired the show “Tavis Smiley” from 2004 until 2017.
After he left PBS, Smiley announced his deal with the Word Network for his production of “The Upside with Tavis Smiley,” a new show featuring inspirational stories directed at black viewers.