Tavis Smiley has responded to the bombshell report that details years of sexual misconduct alleged by multiple women who claim they had professional relationships with the media personality before they became personal. Variety published the newly unsealed court documents on Thursday evening that showed the findings from an independent investigator hired by PBS, the media company that Smiley sued after his eponymous show was canceled following the claims in 2018.
The report recounts narratives told by some accusers, including one woman who claimed that Smiley, her boss, flirted with her and made comments about her underwear — “If you don’t tell me what bra size you wear, I will make you walk back to the office,” for instance — before she was fired for her “her knowledge about Smiley’s behavior,” Variety wrote.
Other women employees as well as guests of his show claim they had consensual sexual relationships with Smiley before he allegedly had them fired or never invited back.
And those were the tamer allegations.
“One woman told PBS’ investigators that around 2000, Smiley grabbed her buttocks while a photo of them was being taken, and that on a separate occasion he had brushed by her, purposely making contact between his penis and her buttocks, pretending that it had been an accident,” Variety wrote.
On Friday, journalist Roland Martin tweeted that Smiley’s public relations team had responded to his request for comment about the report and seemed to indicated that PBS didn’t really have a case.
“A weak case you play in the press, a strong case you play out in a court of law,” the brief statement said in part. “I look forward to my day in court February 10, which I have finally been granted, after 2 years of fighting.”
In late 2017, Smiley was accused of having sexual relations with “multiple subordinates” and “some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley.” He was also accused of creating a threatening and verbally abusive work environment.
In early 2018, Smiley filed a lawsuit against PBS for breach-of-contract after the company suspended him and canceled his show. That prompted PBS to file a countersuit, claiming Smiley violated a morals clause and it is seeking $1.9 million in returned salary.
At the time, the Washington Post reported that while the precise contents of Smiley’s lawsuit were not disclosed, the “tension” between him and PBS “was racial in nature.”
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