sexual misconduct

Tavis Smiley Accused of Sexual Harassment in New PBS Investigative Report

Smiley was dismissed by PBS in 2018. Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

A report by a PBS external investigator claims that former talk-show host Tavis Smiley has a history of sexual relationships with employees and guests on his show, made unwanted comments, engaged in inappropriate touching, and was verbally abusive. Deadline obtained the PBS report through unsealed legal documents filed in regards to the ongoing lawsuits related to Smiley’s dismissal. The report includes several examples of inappropriate workplace behavior. One former employee said she was dismissed for knowing “too much” after Smiley offered to take her to Victoria’s Secret. Several female employees admitted to consensual sexual relationships, but noted the power imbalance. One guest on the show claimed she was not invited back despite having sex with Smiley. In 2000, a woman claimed Smiley grabbed her butt during a photoshoot and then deliberately touched her backside with his penis. Another woman claimed that Smiley once opened the door to his home without wearing pants. Later, he asked her to have a threesome with another woman, who was seen naked in bed with a frightened look, according to the report, which you can read in full here.

Smiley has denied all accusations, saying that he stopped all consensual relationships with subordinates a decade before allegations appeared. He also accuses PBS of being racially biased. Smiley’s team filed the 500-page report to support their breach-of-contract legal claims. PBS has countersued for $1.9 million in production advances. Smiley was let go from PBS, canceling his late-night talk show, Tavis Smiley, in 2017. At the time, PBS said it had “uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.” On Thursday, Smiley argued that the inappropriate conduct had taken place before his current contract, but the judge allowed PBS’ counteraction based on the claim that there has been more recent misconduct.

Tavis Smiley Accused of Sexual Harassment in New PBS Report