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Keillor says MPR investigation inadequate

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Garrison Keillor
Garrison Keillor sings during rehearsal on June 30, 2016, ahead of Keillor's final time hosting "A Prairie Home Companion" at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Nate Ryan | MPR 2016

Updated: 8:57 a.m. | Posted: 6:01 a.m.

Garrison Keillor says Minnesota Public Radio was wrong to cut business ties with him last week without fully investigating what a senior executive has described as "multiple allegations" against the former "A Prairie Home Companion" host spanning an extended period of time.

Jon McTaggart, CEO of MPR's parent company American Public Media Group, addressed the issue at an employee meeting Wednesday. McTaggart didn't provide details of the allegations against the 75-year-old veteran broadcaster, saying only that he has shared them with lawyers and board members.

MPR reporters refused to attend the meeting because its contents had been declared off the record, but they compiled a report based on interviews with colleagues who did. APMG doesn't plan to issue a statement about the meeting.

Keillor announced Nov. 30 that MPR had terminated his contracts after four decades of entertaining public radio listeners with tales of small-town characters. He said was fired over "a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard." Keillor didn't provide details to the Associated Press but later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman's bare back when trying to console her.

Last week, an MPR spokesperson said the company had received multiple allegations of "inappropriate behavior" against Keillor involving one person who worked with him during his time hosting "A Prairie Home Companion." Keillor retired as host of the show in 2016, but had continued to work for MPR on various projects.

McTaggart said Wednesday that he alone knew the content of the "multiple allegations" against Keillor spanning an extended period of time.

Keillor's attorney emailed a statement early Thursday stressing that they know of allegations made by "one individual." "We trust that Mr. McTaggart will set the record straight in this respect to avoid any misperceptions on that point," Eric Nilsson said in the statement.

The company maintains it has received complaints from two individuals formerly associated with "A Prairie Home Companion." Both alleged multiple incidents of inappropriate behavior by Mr. Keillor, according to MPR spokesperson Angie Andresen. Only one person claimed the behavior was directed at her.

"The allegations were carefully investigated before MPR made the decision to terminate contracts with Mr. Keillor," Andresen said Thursday morning in an email to MPR News.

Keillor told the Associated Press in an email that he was not at the meeting hosted by McTaggart, so he couldn't provide details of what was said. But he expressed disappointment at the company's response to the allegations.

"I expect to deal with MPR soon to try to fix the enormous mistake they have made by not conducting a full and fair investigation," he said.

Nilsson, Keillor's attorney, said the veteran broadcaster wants a swift resolution of the matter and "with it expects a full restoration of his reputation."

"The Prairie Home Companion" continues with Keillor's hand-picked successor, mandolinist Chris Thile.

MPR News reporter Laura Yuen contributed to this report.