New PBS external report details years of allegations against Tavis Smiley
Smiley is accused of allegedly engaging in sexual relationships with guests and subordinates on his now-defunct talk show, with allegations that range from lewd jokes to unwanted sexual advances.
In a newly unsealed report from an external investigator hired by PBS, Tavis Smiley is accused of engaging in sexual relationships with guests and subordinates on his now-defunct talk show, with allegations that date back years and range from lewd jokes to unwanted sexual advances.
After Smiley was dismissed by PBS following “troubling allegations” in December 2017, the network hired an external team to investigate the former talk-show host. The findings of that investigation were unsealed this week in relation to an ongoing lawsuit surrounding his dismissal.
One such allegation detailed in the report comes from an unnamed woman who told the external investigator Smiley sent her text messages asking her to “hook up” and another allegedly saying “he had checked her out in her tight pants.”
Another incident detailed in the report comes from a woman who worked with Smiley around 2000 and stated ”Smiley grabbed (her) buttocks” when they posed together for a photo. The woman also told the investigator Smiley brushed up against her and when she asked for a letter of reference at the end of her internship, she alleges he declined unless she agreed to go to his home at 11 p.m. She refused.
Smiley’s response to her allegations was detailed in the investigative report. “He stated he has never brushed his body up against an employee or touched an employee in a sexual way on purpose who he was not in a relationship with.”
Another woman told the investigator when she was in a car with Smiley driving back to the office from lunch one day, he asked her, “What bra size do you wear? Because there is a Victoria’s Secret at the Grove right here and I can buy you some stuff, some panties.” She said after she tried to laugh it off, Smiley said “I will make you walk back to the office.”
Smiley denied the allegations to the investigator, saying he did not engage in the banter the woman described.
Another woman described sexual comments directed at her in the workplace, telling the investigator Smiley once told her: “Your husband must be a lucky man because you must be good in bed.” She also recalled Smiley telling her assistant she’d ”have to get on (her) knees to save (her) job” if she made another mistake. Smiley also denied the described behavior in comments to the investigator.
In a document filed in November 2018, Smiley’s team denied the findings of the report.
“PBS’s claim that Mr. Smiley engaged in any harassment or any other misconduct are entirely meritless and a smokescreen for PBS’ desire to rid itself of its tense partnership with Mr. Smiley,” the document reads.
Smiley was suspended from his self-titled show in late 2017 and later fired. In March 2018, PBS said it found new witnesses thanks to the now-unsealed independent investigation. The network filed papers in Washington, D.C., Superior Court in response to a breach-of-contract lawsuit Smiley filed a month prior.
USA TODAY has reached out to Smiley’s rep for comment.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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