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UPDATE: Garrison Keillor Fired, Says He Put Hand On Woman’s Back

The creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion has been accused of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him,” MPR says. The radio station is cutting ties with Keillor

Garrison Keillor, creator and former host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” talks at his St. Paul, Minn., office in July.

THE LATEST on the firing of Garrison Keillor over an allegation of inappropriate behavior (all times local):

2 p.m.

An allegation of improper behavior by former “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor is shocking his fans.

Minnesota Public Radio terminated its contracts with Keillor for what they called an allegation of inappropriate behavior. Keillor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he touched a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her, and he apologized when she recoiled.

Among the local fans shocked by the news was Cindy Dina. The suburban Minneapolis woman says she admired Keillor and frequently listened to his show. She says she hopes the continuous allegations against high-profile men accused of misconduct sends a strong message to others.

Kathy Wallace says wasn’t a big fan of Keillor’s show but knew his name well as a cultural icon in Minnesota. She says his firing caught her off guard.

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1:05 p.m.

Garrison Keillor says he was fired because he put his hand on a woman’s bare back as he tried to console her.

The longtime radio host announced Wednesday he’d been fired by Minnesota Public Radio. Keillor retired from his popular show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” last year but had still worked for MPR on a variety of projects.

Keillor tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune in an email that he was trying to pat the woman’s back after she had told him “about her unhappiness.” Keillor wrote that the woman’s shirt was open and his hand went up about 6 inches.

Keillor says he apologized when the woman recoiled, and also emailed the woman an apology. He says she replied she’d forgiven him and “not to think about it.”

Keillor says he considered her a friend and they remained friendly “right up until her lawyer called.”

MPR declined to give any detail of the allegation against Keillor.

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Garrison Keillor, the creator and former host of A Prairie Home Companion, has been accused of inappropriate behavior, according to Minnesota Public Radio, which has announced it is cutting ties with Keillor and his production company.

In a statement released Wednesday, the NPR member station says it learned of the allegations in October and has retained an outside law firm to investigate them. That investigation is ongoing.

Keillor no longer hosts A Prairie Home Companion, the show indelibly tied to his name, but continued to produce The Writer’s Almanac. Both shows are widely carried by public radio stations across the country.

MPR says in its statement that it will no longer distribute Writer’s Almanac, and it will stop rebroadcasting The Best Of A Prairie Home Companion. In addition, new episodes of A Prairie Home Companion — now hosted by Chris Thile — will be given a new name.

The allegations “relate to Mr. Keillor’s conduct while he was responsible for the production of A Prairie Home Companion,” MPR says. “Based on what we currently know, there are no similar allegations involving other staff.”

“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,” Jon McTaggart, the president of MPR, said in that statement. “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.”

Keillor told The Associated Press that MPR cut ties with him over “a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard.”

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Keillor in which he defended Sen. Al Franken, accused of forcibly kissing a radio host and groping another woman during a photo, against calls for his resignation.

“On the flight home, in a spirit of low comedy, Al ogled Miss [Leeann] Tweeden and pretended to grab her and a picture was taken. Eleven years later, a talk show host in LA, she goes public, and there is talk of resignation. This is pure absurdity, and the atrocity it leads to is a code of public deadliness,” Keillor wrote. “No kidding.”

Allegations of misconduct — specifically, of sexual harassment — have caused a number of prominent men to lose their jobs in recent weeks, including two top editors at NPR.

Earlier today, NBC News announced that longtime Today host Matt Lauer had been fired over a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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