US author and radio host Garrison Keillor has been fired from his radio station amid a claim of misconduct.
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) said a colleague on Keillor’s former show, A Prairie Home Companion, had accused him of inappropriate behaviour.
Mr Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the claim stems from an occasion when he put his hand on a woman’s bare back to console her.
The station said it did not know of any allegations involving any other staff.
“I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness, and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches [15 cm]”, he told the newspaper in an email.
“She recoiled. I apologised. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it,” he added.
“We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”
He did not say when the alleged incident occurred.
MPR said it would:
- end its contracts with Mr Keillor and his companies
- stop broadcasting his syndicated show The Writer’s Almanac
- stop rebroadcasting highlights from A Prairie Home Companion
- change that programme’s name
- separate from an online catalogue and website associated with him
MPR President Jon McTaggart said: “Garrison Keillor has been an important part of the growth and success of MPR, and all of us in the MPR community are saddened by these circumstances.
“While we appreciate the contributions Garrison has made to MPR and to all of public radio, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn the trust of our audiences, employees and supporters of our public service.”
Mr Keillor hosted A Prairie Home Companion – a variety show with a focus on the fictional town of Lake Wobegon – for 42 years.
He went on to become a prolific author, writing a series of books set in Lake Wobegon, as well as other fiction and poetry.
He also wrote opinion columns in the Washington Post. On Wednesday he wrote a column saying there was no reason for Senator Al Franken, who is accused of sexual misconduct and was photographed groping a sleeping broadcaster, to resign.
After the announcement of his firing, Mr Keillor told the Star Tribune he was “was the least physically affectionate person” at his office.
“If I had a dollar for every woman who asked to take a selfie with me and who slipped an arm around me and let it drift down below the beltline, I’d have at least a hundred dollars,” the radio presenter said.
“So this is poetic irony of a high order. But I’m just fine. I had a good long run and am grateful for it and for everything else.”