Free Press' Stephen Henderson terminated for misconduct

DETROIT, MICH. - Stephen Henderson, managing director of opinion and commentary, was terminated from the Free Press on Friday, Free Press Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia announced.

At a Dec. 6 press conference, Detroit minister W.J. Rideout III mentioned Henderson and two other members of the local media as individuals who had engaged in acts of sexual harassment. Rideout did not cite any evidence or specifics about Henderson and this week the minister’s radio show was suspended over that lack of evidence. The Free Press immediately launched an investigation and subsequently uncovered examples of inappropriate behavior by Henderson with female colleagues dating back several years.

Gannett, owner of the Free Press, released this statement: “Effective today, Stephen Henderson will no longer be employed by the Detroit Free Press. The decision was made after an internal investigation was conducted which uncovered credible allegations that Mr. Henderson’s behavior has been inconsistent with company values and standards.”

Henderson won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2014 for his columns in the Free Press. He worked at the Free Press from 1994-96 as an editorial writer and reporter and returned to the Free Press in 2007. He has worked as a journalist since his graduation from the University of Michigan in 1992. 

“This is a devastatingly sad day for us at the Free Press. Stephen is a magnificent journalist and a treasured colleague who has done so much for Detroit,” said Bhatia. He said, however, that the incidents involving inappropriate behavior and comments directed at Free Press employees were counter to company policies and practices. There were no accusations or evidence of sexual assault.

Bhatia said there would be no further comment from the Free Press. “Out of respect for the privacy of the women involved and Stephen, we have no further details to share.”

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