Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jack Lessenberry resigns from Michigan Radio following sexual harassment claims

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Former Metro Times columnist Jack Lessenberry. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Former Metro Times columnist Jack Lessenberry.

Former Metro Times columnist and Wayne State University professor Jack Lessenberry has resigned from his role as senior political analyst at Michigan Radio after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.

The allegations were made in an in-depth report published last week by Deadline Detroit. The online outlet quoted both former students and colleagues of Lessenberry, who recounted multiple alleged instances of verbal sexual harassment, and on one occasion, physical sexual harassment, between the years of 1990 and 2009. Lessenberry has denied any wrongdoing.

The longtime newsman stepped down from Metro Times last week after the paper suspended him while it reviewed the allegations outlined in the report. At the time Michigan Radio's license holder, the University of Michigan, said it would "continue to air Mr. Lessenberry’s political commentaries" during its "ongoing assessment" of the situation.

But on Wednesday, Lessenberry resigned from the station.

“By mutual agreement, Mr. Lessenberry’s responsibilities as a contracted contributor to Michigan Radio will end immediately,” University of Michigan spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said in a written statement. “Mr. Lessenberry will officially resign from Michigan Radio effective July 31.”

Both Metro Times and U-M noted they had received no complaints about Lessenberry. Lessenberry was a contractual employee at the radio station, meaning his presence in that newsroom was limited. He filed his columns remotely for Metro Times.

“I am saddened by the events of the last several days and admit to absolutely no wrongdoing whatsoever,” Lessenberry says in a statement published by Michigan Radio. “But (I) have decided to resign to pursue new opportunities and avoid distracting listeners from the fine work of Michigan Radio.”

Lessenberry has stepped away from Wayne State University while the school has an independent investigator to look into the allegations. The school says it has received one complaint against the professor, which was filed this year and stemmed from an incident that occurred in 2005. The complaint was not investigated because it was deemed to be "inadvertent touching."

Lessenberry is also the ombudsman for the Toledo Blade and the host of a public affairs program on Toledo's WGTE-TV. The paper did not immediately respond to inquiries as to his employments status.

WGTE-TV says Lessenberry works on a volunteer basis and that no one has registered any complaints about him. A spokeswoman said the station is monitoring the situation and the investigation being conducted by Wayne State University.

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