Investigation Finds Troubling Behavior By Garrison Keillor An investigation by Minnesota Public Radio News shows a pattern of troubling behavior by former Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor. Some former employees talk about feeling mistreated.
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Investigation Finds Troubling Behavior By Garrison Keillor

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Investigation Finds Troubling Behavior By Garrison Keillor

Investigation Finds Troubling Behavior By Garrison Keillor

Investigation Finds Troubling Behavior By Garrison Keillor

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An investigation by Minnesota Public Radio News shows a pattern of troubling behavior by former Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor. Some former employees talk about feeling mistreated.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, now some new details about Minnesota Public Radio's decision late last year to cut off its business ties with Garrison Keillor. The break with the creator and former host of "A Prairie Home Companion" came amid allegations that he engaged in inappropriate behavior. And now an investigation by Minnesota Public Radio News reveals that Keillor fostered a work environment that left some women feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled. Reporter Matt Sepic has our story.

MATT SEPIC, BYLINE: The company ended its relationship with Keillor in late November, immediately halting distribution of "The Writer's Almanac" and rebroadcasts of Prairie Home Companion shows Keillor hosted until his retirement. At the time, Minnesota Public Radio CEO Jon McTaggart revealed very little, but now, he says a woman who worked on "Prairie Home" had come forward a month prior with allegations of sexual misconduct. McTaggart says the woman's attorney sent a 12-page letter outlining accusations of unwanted sexual touching and dozens of inappropriate incidents over a period of years. Along with the letter were excerpts of emails from Keillor. MPR hired an outside law firm to investigate, and McTaggart says Keillor was included in the process. McTaggart says the investigation has been thorough.

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JON MCTAGGART: We've been, from the beginning, committed to the privacy and confidentiality of everyone involved, including Garrison. We have not made public the documents, the allegations, the identities of anyone involved.

SEPIC: Jon McTaggart spoke publicly yesterday just as Minnesota Public Radio News, which operates independently of the company's corporate structure, was about to air the results of its own investigation into Keillor's past. It found that he had at least two consensual romantic relationships with women in workplaces he led. In 2009, his production company offered one of his subordinates $16,000, a non-disclosure agreement and a contract. The woman said she never cashed the check, nor did she sign the proposed confidentiality agreement. In 1999, another woman, Patricia McFadden, was fired from Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" program and sued Minnesota Public Radio. She did not allege sexual harassment but said Keillor bullied and humiliated women on his staff.

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PATRICIA MCFADDEN: I think people who have power and influence and good fortune have more responsibility to behave well than anybody. And it should not be an excuse to behave badly and treat others so poorly, especially women.

SEPIC: In a 1999 court filing, MPR disputed the claims in McFadden's lawsuit. Molly Hilgenberg, who worked in Keillor's St. Paul bookstore, says she was in the shop one day in 2012 when Keillor wrote a limerick on a white board. It was about how he found one of his female employees physically arousing.

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MOLLY HILGENBERG: I don't even really remember my reaction. I just was in shock. And I was like, that is so wildly inappropriate, you know, in my mind. But I didn't say anything, which I still regret to this day.

SEPIC: Hilgenberg says Keillor apologized. Keillor has repeatedly declined to comment for this story, but in November, he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that his ouster then was simply the result of putting his hand on a woman's bare back to console her. CEO McTaggart says Keillor's public statements, quote, "have not been fully accurate." On social media, Keillor has said he's working on a novella called "Inappropriate Behavior" and a screenplay about a man who returns home to the fictional Lake Wobegon after being fired from his job. The offense - sending a sexual limerick to fellow employees.

For NPR News, I'm Matt Sepic in St. Paul.

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