In a newly released report, it has been alleged that former PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley engaged in sexual misconduct for decades. PBS hired an external investigator to look into the allegations, and the findings show that he had engaged in sexual relationships with colleagues and guests. Additionally, he had allegedly made unwanted sexual comments, verbally abused staff, and inappropriately touched multiple women.
One former employee claimed that Smiley invited her to lunch just days after she started working for him, and when they were at lunch he asked her if she had a boyfriend. On the drive back to the office, he asked what her bra size was and offered to take her to Victoria's Secret. While she initially laughed off the comments, he reportedly persisted with the inappropriate questions.
"If you don't tell me what bra size you wear, I will make you walk back to the office," he allegedly told the woman. He later left a voicemail on her phone in which he said she looked "so good" in the dress she was wearing. She was later laid off, and a number of individuals told her she was fired because she "knew too much."
Multiple women admitted to having consensual sexual relationships with Smiley, but ultimately this shifted the power dynamics in the workplace. One woman said she "uncomfortably went with [sexual contact]" when at his home and said "women are put in a bad position when their boss hits on them."
Some of the allegations leveled against Smiley date back to the early '00s. One woman said he grabbed her buttocks when she posed for a photo with him around 2000. She said he also purposely made contact between his penis and her buttocks, claiming it was an accident. Years later, she said that he opened the door without pants on and asked if she would have a threesome with him and executive producer Kimberly McFarland, who the woman said was naked in his bed looking uncomfortable.
In 2017, Smiley had his eponymous talk show suspended after he was accused of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with his colleagues. Multiple staffers on his show believed their jobs were dependent on their sexual relationships with Smiley, which created what some called a "threatening workplace environment." He denied the allegations on numerous occasions, blasting PBS for what he called a "biased and sloppy" investigation. He later filed a lawsuit over the suspension of his show.
Read the whole report on the allegations here.