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NPR Boss Jarl Mohn Takes Medical Leave After Exec’s Sexual Harassment Scandal

Mohn cites doctor’s concerns about hypertension

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn is going on medical leave amid the company’s ongoing sexual harassment scandal.

According to NPR, Mohn informed staff of his upcoming absence in an internal memo on Tuesday, attributing it to his rising blood pressure and a “nearly fatal” medical emergency last March. He will be out for at least a month, during which time Chief Operating Officer Loren Mayor will step in.

“[L]ast March I suffered a nearly fatal ruptured aorta. I returned to work with the blessing of my physician with one important caveat–I cannot allow my blood pressure to rise,” Mohn wrote in the internal email. “Regretfully, the hypertension has returned to a dangerous level, and I have been instructed to take medical leave until my health returns to normal, at a minimum of four weeks.”

Mohn’s announcement comes less than a week after NPR Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes was forced to resign after two women accused him of unwanted sexual contact in a report by the Washington Post.

The unnamed women said that Oreskes had unexpectedly kissed them on the mouth during meetings about their job prospects, saying that the encounters occurred two decades ago, when Oreskes served as the New York Times’ bureau chief in Washington, D.C.

NPR staff member Rebecca Hersher also came forward with a formal human resources complaint she’d made in October 2015 about a “career counseling session” with Oreskes that became an hours-long dinner and conversation that made her uncomfortable.

Mohn admitted on Tuesday that a “second similar complaint” had been filed at “about the same time,” according to NPR. “Mike was disciplined at the time for both incidents,” he said.

In the memo announcing Oreskes’ departure last week, Mohn denied that it took news coverage of the situation to compel him to act.

“Some have asked me if it took published news reports for us to take action,” he wrote. “The answer is that it did not. We have been acting. Some of the steps we took were visible and others weren’t. We have a process in place and we followed that process.”