MPR: Garrison Keillor accused of 'dozens' of 'sexually inappropriate' incidents

Garrison Keillor's story about what got him fired was very, very different from MPR's.

Garrison Keillor's story about what got him fired was very, very different from MPR's. Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

He touched the back of a sad coworker he was trying to comfort. 

It was an accident, it happened once, and he apologized. 

This was how Garrison Keillor explained his sudden firing from Minnesota Public Radio. The station declined to offer further details on the situation; that Keillor's side of the story was the only one available to the public allowed his loyal fans to say MPR was overreacting.

This afternoon, a letter attributed to MPR President Jon McTaggart was sent to MPR members, offering a far more detailed account. An MPR employee accused Keillor of "dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents," in a letter the station received from the woman's employee in October, McTaggart writes. The innocent-sounding back-touching Keillor described was not one of them.

McTaggart's letter continues:

"[T]he woman’s attorney presented us with a 12-page letter detailing many of the alleged incidents, including excerpts of emails and written messages, requests for sexual contact and explicit descriptions of sexual communications and touching."

In response to the "serious and sensitive" allegations, the station started an investigation into Keillor's conduct.

MPR is declining to release that full 12-page letter, stating its intention to "protect the privacy of those involved, including Garrison." McTaggart does tell members that if the public knew the contents of the letter, "we believe that would clarify why MPR ended its business relationship with Garrison and correct the misunderstandings and misinformation about the decision."

McTaggart's letter says Keillor was given due process to dispute the accusations during a meeting with his attorney present. The company also sought access to Keillor's emails and text messages related to the allegations, but he and his attorney refused.

The 12-page letter is one of two formal complaints against Keillor, McTaggart says; one complaint dealt with Keillor's behavior toward the complainant, while the other made accusations of inappropriate workplace behavior the complainant had observed.

Since MPR cut ties with Keillor (who took the A Prairie Home Companion brand name with him), listeners have asked if the station had "unfairly tarnished [his] reputation." In response, McTaggart writes:

"Garrison has operated his own private media companies for many years. We appreciate his many contributions to MPR and we have gone to great lengths to be considerate of Garrison’s privacy and his reputation. For example, we have not disclosed the details of the allegations, we offered to work with Garrison on the public release of information related to the separation and we’ve sought a thoughtful transition of our business relationship. I discussed our request for a careful transition with Garrison, personally, on the phone the evening of November 28. The next morning, Garrison emailed the media claiming he was “fired” by MPR. Since then, Garrison has posted statements to social media and provided information to reporters that have not been fully accurate and have suggested that MPR did not handle these matters thoughtfully. The irony is that while MPR has been careful to protect Garrison’s privacy and not hurry any decisions, others have rushed to judge and criticize MPR’s actions without knowing the facts."