A newly unsealed report from an external investigator hired by PBS, details accusations against Tavis Smiley, according to the Chicago Suntimes.
The report claims that the talk show host engaged in sexual relationships with guests and subordinates on his now-defunct talk show. The allegations date back years and range from lewd jokes and remarks to unwanted sexual advances.
According to USA Today, Smiley was dismissed by PBS following “troubling allegations” in December 2017. The network then reportedly hired a team to investigate the former talk-show host. The findings of that investigation were unsealed in relation to an ongoing lawsuit surrounding his dismissal.
In the report, an unnamed woman told the investigators that Smiley sent her text messages asking her to “hook up,” and another allegedly saying, “he had checked her out in her tight pants.”
In another incident, a woman, who worked with Smiley around 2000, stated, “Smiley grabbed (her) buttocks” when they posed together for a photo. The woman also claimed that Smiley brushed up against her, and when she asked for a letter of reference at the end of her internship, she said he declined unless she agreed to meet him at his home at 11 p.m., an offer the woman refused.
Smiley’s response to her allegations was also 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,” the report said.
However,in another incident, a woman said that 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 threatened, “I will make you walk back to the office.”
However, Smiley denied these allegations to the investigator, saying he did not engage in the banter the woman described.
However, in a seperate document filed in November 2018, Smiley’s team denied all the findings of the report stating:
“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.”
Smiley was suspended from his self-titled show in late 2017 and later fired. In March 2018, the network said it found new witnesses thanks to the now-unsealed independent investigation. PBS filed papers in Washington, D.C., Superior Court, in response to a breach-of-contract lawsuit Smiley filed a month prior.