ST. PAUL-Garrison Keillor on Thursday posted a statement to his website calling Minnesota Public Radio's handling of sexual harassment allegations against him "duplicitous from first to last."
In the statement, Keillor again denied accusations of impropriety brought by a former female employee, which prompted MPR to sever ties with the radio host and humorist in November. Keillor faulted MPR management for not seeking his side of the story before making its decision, relying instead on a 12-page letter from the woman's attorney.
Keillor said the letter misrepresented his relationship with the woman.
"Our friendship - which was mutual, reciprocal and respectful - continued in frequent emails about our kids and travel and family things that continued to my last show and beyond," Keillor wrote. "She signed her emails 'I love you' and she asked if her daughter could be hired to work here, and so forth."
"If I am guilty of harassment, then every employee who stole a pencil is guilty of embezzlement," he added.
Keillor's statement was in response to a letter to MPR members from CEO Jon McTaggart, defending the company's decision to end its longstanding relationship with Keillor. McTaggart wrote that MPR's decision was based on an internal investigation into the accusations, which included "dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents" over a period of years.
In an email on Thursday, an MPR spokeswoman declined to comment further.
Keillor's statement did not address any of the new allegations against Keillor published Tuesday in an article by MPR News, which operates independently of MPR corporate.
Citing interviews with more than 60 people, MPR News reported that its own investigation uncovered "a years-long pattern of behavior that left several women who worked for Keillor feeling mistreated, sexualized or belittled." It detailed several examples of misconduct dating back to the late 1990s.
Among them was an incident in which Keillor wrote a sexually explicit limerick on a whiteboard at his St. Paul bookstore, Common Good Books, allegedly about one of his young female employees. Fearing reprisals from Keillor if it was removed, the bookstore's staff left the poem on the whiteboard, but covered it up with books and a portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald, according to the MPR News report.
Linda Keillor Berg, Keillor's sister who works as a communications consultant, said that while Keillor did write the limerick, it was not about an employee and was "immediately removed."
A photo published by MPR News shows the poem covered up as described in the article.
MPR News also reported that Keillor had consensual romantic relationships with at least two female employees at his company, Prairie Home Productions. In 2009, one of them was offered $16,000 with a non-disclosure agreement and a new work contract, all of which she declined, according to the MPR News report.
Eric Nilsson, a Minneapolis attorney who has provided outside legal counsel to Prairie Home Productions since 2002, disputed the characterization of the $16,000 as hush money. Nilsson said the woman's 2008 contract stipulated that if it was terminated without 60 days notice, she was entitled to 60 days' pay - equal to about $16,000.
This sum was offered to the employee in 2009 if she agreed to terminate her existing contract early, and enter into a new one under a different pay structure, Nilsson said. The woman declined the new contract and continued working under her old contract, he said.
As for the non-disclosure agreement, Nilsson said this was a requirement for all employees of Prairie Home Productions at the time.
Nilsson and Keillor Berg said they had no knowledge of romantic affairs between Keillor and his employees.
"We stand by our reporting," said Mike Edgerly, executive editor at MPR News.