(MINNEAPOLIS) — Minnesota Public Radio provided additional details of allegations of sexual harassment against humorist Garrison Keillor on Tuesday, saying his alleged conduct went well beyond his account of an accidental touch of a woman’s bare back.
MPR said in a statement that Keillor was accused by a woman who worked on his “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show of dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents over several years, including requests for sexual contact and explicit sexual communications and touching.
MPR said the woman, whom it has not identified, detailed the allegations in a 12-page letter that included excerpts of emails and written messages. MPR said as it attempted to investigate the case, Keillor and his attorney refused to grant access to his computer, emails and text messages.
Keillor did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. He has said in recent weeks he was in negotiations with MPR over separating the two sides’ business interests.
MPR released its statement just as its news division, MPR News, was airing a lengthy investigation of allegations against Keillor.
In a note to members Tuesday afternoon, MPR President Jon McTaggart said the separation was painful.
“If the full 12-page letter or even a detailed summary of the alleged incidents were to be made public, we believe that would clarify why MPR ended its business relationship with Garrison and correct the misunderstandings and misinformation about the decision,” he added.
Outraged Keillor fans have criticized MPR for firing the best-selling humorist after four decades of his telling folksy stories about his fictional Minnesota hometown of Lake Wobegon. Keillor accused the station of firing him without a full investigation.
But MPR said in its statement it launched an internal investigation as soon as it received a general allegation against Keillor in August. MPR said it did not learn the identity of the alleged victim, and didn’t get specifics of the allegations, until it got one letter from a former employee Sept. 29 and one from the alleged victim Oct. 22.
MPR said it notified its board Oct. 26 and launched an independent investigation a few days later.
MPR said Keillor responded to the allegations with his attorney present. MPR said Keillor and his attorney declined to give access to his computer, emails and text messages to allow a full investigation.
MPR has removed from its website archived “A Prairie Home Companion” shows featuring Keillor. The network also ended broadcasts of “The Writer’s Almanac,” Keillor’s daily reading of literary events and a poem, and ended rebroadcasts of Keillor-hosted “Prairie Home” shows.
Keillor, 75, retired in 2016 as host of “Prairie Home,” a Saturday evening radio variety show he created in 1974. The show, now titled “Live from Here,” continues with Keillor’s hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile.