MINNEAPOLIS

Garrison Keillor, whose stories of small-town characters entertained legions of public radio listeners for 40 years on “A Prairie Home Companion,” became another celebrity felled by allegations of workplace misconduct on Wednesday when Minnesota Public Radio terminated his contracts.

The homegrown humorist told The Associated Press he was fired over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.” Keillor didn’t detail the allegation to AP, but he later told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had put his hand on a woman’s bare back when trying to console her.

“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. She recoiled. I apologized,” Keillor told the newspaper in an email. “I sent her an email of apology later, and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it.

“We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

MPR said only that it received allegations of “inappropriate behavior” against Keillor last month involving one person who worked with him during his time hosting “A Prairie Home Companion.” Keillor retired as host of the radio variety show last year, but continued to work for MPR on various projects.

MPR said it had received no other complaints but had retained an outside law firm that was continuing to investigate.

Later Wednesday, Keillor gave a statement to MPR News saying he had to “respect the privacy of the two employees who have made the allegations.” A spokeswoman for MPR’s corporate arm didn’t immediately respond to questions from AP on whether Keillor was accused of bad behavior with more than one person.

Keillor’s hand-picked successor to host the show, mandolinist Chris Thile, tweeted Wednesday he was “in shock” after Keillor’s firing. Thile had been a frequent musical guest on the show and said he knew nothing about the allegation, adding: “I trust that the proper steps are being taken.”

On Wednesday, Keillor didn’t say when the incident with the woman occurred. In his statement to AP, Keillor said it was “poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself.

“But I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I’ve worked hard for since 1969.”



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