Tavis Smiley is one of a few men sticking by his guns after being accused of sexual misconduct last year, repeatedly claiming he’s innocent of any wrong doing. The journalist is now preparing to sue PBS for terminating his talk show before concluding their investigation into the accusations.
The Washington Post reports Smiley’s suit alleges the network breached its contract with his production company and owes damages.
The veteran journalist has denied all allegations of harassment, admitting in a Good Morning America interview that while he’s had consensual sexual relationships with co-workers over his 30-year-career, he “never groped, never coerced, never exposed myself inappropriately to anyone.”
Tuesday, Smiley spoke out about taking PBS to court, saying, “I’ve spent the bulk of my career in public media, so filing a lawsuit against PBS was the last thing I wanted to do,” according to The Post. “But litigation seems to be the only way to get at the truth.”
PBS responded to the suit with this lengthy statement:
“Today’s meritless lawsuit is yet another example of Tavis Smiley’s attempts to distract the public from his pattern of sexual misconduct in the workplace. As PBS has consistently stated, following receipt of a complaint alleging inappropriate conduct by Mr. Smiley, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation. The ongoing investigation, which included a lengthy interview with Mr. Smiley, revealed that he had multiple sexual encounters with subordinates over many years and yielded credible allegations of additional misconduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS. That is what led PBS to the decision to indefinitely suspend distribution of Mr. Smiley’s program. The notion that PBS’ decision to suspend distribution of the program was made for any reason aside from Mr. Smiley’s own behavior is ridiculous and false.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.