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Tavis Smiley vows to fight back against sexual misconduct allegations

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Tavis Smiley is fighting back against sexual misconduct accusations that resulted in PBS suspending distribution of his late-night talk show.

In a Facebook video posted Wednesday evening, the “Tavis Smiley” host said that he was shocked by the announcement from PBS, stating that Variety knew before he did. 

“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth,” Smiley said. “To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering six networks over 30 years.”

“Never,” Smiley added. “Ever. Never.”

PBS enlisted an outside law firm to investigate “troubling accusations” against Smiley, according to a statement released Wednesday. 

“This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley,” the statement said. “The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to [Wednesday’s] decision.”

Smiley contended that PBS investigators interviewed him only after he learned of the inquiry secondhand. 

“If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us,” Smiley said. 

He then claimed that PBS investigators refused to provide him with the name of his accusers, to speak to his current staff or even look at any of Smiley’s personal documentation. 

Almost immediately after his meeting with investigators, Smiley said, the story broke in Variety. 

Smiley contends that the PBS investigation was sloppy and has tarnished a reputation he has worked a lifetime to establish. 

“This has gone too far,” Smiley said. “And, I, for one, intend to fight back.”

“Following receipt of a complaint, PBS hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation and we stand by its integrity,” a PBS spokesperson said in a statement provided to The Times’ Thursday morning.

“The totality of the investigation, which included Mr. Smiley, revealed a pattern of multiple relationships with subordinates over many years, and other conduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.”

UPDATES:

11:30 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement from PBS.

This article was originally published at 9:03 a.m.

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