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Minnesota Public Radio Disputes Garrison Keillor’s Claim That He Was Fired for Touching Woman’s Back

MPR president Jon McTaggart says accuser provided ”12-page letter“ detailing sexual misconduct by ”A Prairie Home Companion“ host

Minnesota Public Radio released a lengthy statement on Tuesday disputing “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor’s account of the reasons he and his shows were dropped by the public radio network.

In the note signed by MPR president Jon McTaggart, MPR pushed back on Keillor’s claim that he was fired for putting a “hand on a woman’s bare back.” According to MPR, the allegations of misbehavior by Keillor were far more extensive than that and were outlined in a “12-page letter” from his anonymous accuser’s attorney.

“If the full 12-page letter or even a detailed summary of the alleged incidents were to be made public, we believe that would clarify why MPR ended its business relationship with Garrison and correct the misunderstandings and misinformation about the decision,” McTaggart wrote, adding that MPR would not share the letter or the accuser’s identity out of respect for her privacy.

“MPR has clear standards and policies that hold people accountable for their behavior in the workplace,” the statement said. “While everyone at MPR is expected to abide by these expectations, we hold leaders and people in positions of power to the highest standards for their behavior, especially when their relationships involve decisions that directly affect an individual’s career and livelihood. We do not tolerate the misuse of power.”

MPR terminated its contract with Keillor last November, saying the decision came after hiring an outside law firm to investigate allegations of “inappropriate behavior.”

Keillor addressed his termination in an email to the Minnesota Star Tribune shortly thereafter, joking that it was an “honor” and a “distinction” in public broadcasting to be fired.

“I put my hand on a woman’s bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches,” he wrote. “She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

On Tuesday, McTaggart explained that MPR was “restrained” from responding to Keillor’s account until the outside investigation and mediation with Keillor had concluded.

“I hope this additional information helps you understand the care and diligence we used in making the decisions we did,” he said. “Put simply, we are confident that we followed a fair process and made the right decision, based on the facts.”