Consensual bashing: Tavis Smiley at war with PBS over sex claims

042716115075 21334631 APRIL 27 2016 FILE

Smiley has copped to consensual relationship, but denied charges he used his position to coerce employees to have sex with him.


PBS announced last week that it will "indefinitely" suspend distribution of the 53-year-old host's show and namesake, "Tavis Smiley", after an investigation by an outside law firm revealed that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with subordinates. Today, Smiley appeared on ABC News' Good Morning America to once again defend himself.

"And I don't think taxpayers want their money spent that way", Smiley said pointedly to Fox News Channel viewers. PBS did not immediately respond to TIME's request for comment about Smiley's statements. "They need to fix this, they need to correct it".

Smiley intends to fight against the allegations.

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"First, today on Good Morning America, Mr. Smiley acknowledged he has had multiple sexual encounters with his employees", the statement said. Distribution of the show was suspended after the network said an investigation found "credible allegations" following the "receipt of a complaint".

Smiley said he can prove his relationships with employees were consensual "with letters, cards, gifts and, certainly, photographs".

"PBS made a huge mistake", Smiley said. Variety reported Wednesday that the firm had interviewed 10 witnesses, many of whom are former staffers, who anxious that their employment in Smiley's company "was linked to the status of a sexual relationship" with him.

Smiley also described a "sloppy investigation" in which investigators have not interviewed his current staff members, only former employees. In our employee handbook, while we do not encourage office relationships, we don't forbid them either. because I don't know where your heart is going to lead you.

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Some of these women may have felt pressured to go along with Smiley's personal interest in them to maintain their employment. PBS stands by its decision to respect the anonymity of those who are afraid to come forward publicly.

Walmart and Mills Entertainment have also dropped out of plans to back a 40-city live tour "Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience", based on Smiley's 2014 book of the same name about Martin Luther King Jr.

Smiley previously denied the allegations and criticized the investigation in a video posted to Facebook.

So it doesn't sound like PBS is shifting off its indefinite suspension position even a little.

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Smiley joins a growing list of male actors, TV personalities, politicians and other prominent people accused of sexual misconduct in recent months. Tavis was accused of 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".

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