WXYZ (Channel 7) is being accused of brushing aside allegations of sexual harassment made against news anchor Malcom Maddox.
At a press conference this morning, the Rev. W.J. Rideout III, pastor of Our God's People Church in Detroit, claimed that station management — including, Vice President and General Manager Mike Murri — were informed of sexual harassment allegations made by a current employee and failed to address the issue — instead, promoting Maddox and moving the woman to a new assignment.
"They've covered up accusations against one of their main anchors," Rideout said Wednesday morning.
Stating that the woman wanted to remain anonymous at this time, Rideout detailed how Maddox sent the woman inappropriate e-mails and texts. When she brought them to the attention of a supervisor, the supervisor merely ordered Maddox to stop texting and calling.
When the woman kept pushing and brought the issue to the attention of Murri, Rideout said she was told to "respect her boundaries."
Maddox was then promoted to be the main morning anchor, said Rideout, while the woman's schedule changed so she wasn't working with Maddox anymore. She was told to "readjust."
Rideout charged that this woman's experience was not an isolated incident stating that "numerous employees were shown pictures and endured sexual innuendos" and that the anchor showed his "anatomy parts to females in the workplace." Rideout also accused the anchor of having sexual relations with a "young producer employee" in the station's parking lot.
"Channel 7 knew about it, Mike Murri knew about it," Rideout said, adding that he was "told a number of things, but right now I can’t divulge. I was asked not to divulge certain things."
Rideout said he didn't understand why men felt the need to force themselves on a woman, "when they’re giving it away.”
Murri could not be reached for immediate comment.
Near the end of the press conference, Rideout expanded his accusations to include a more broad list of those in the media. He brought up the names of WXYZ anchor Stephen Clark, who announced his retirement on Monday, and Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson, but did not make any specific accusations.
He also claimed that there are cases involving "women predators" in the Detroit media but wouldn't give details.
Rideout said the victims have retained attorneys and will be speaking out.
Following the press conference, 910 A.M Superstation radio host Steve Neavling stated on air that he had heard of claims against three journalists in Detroit. He declined to give names saying he wanted to give the alleged “predators” the opportunity to come forward.
"Two are television reporters and one is an editor at a newspaper,” Neavling said, noting that they are the same people Rideout had called out.
“Three local Detroit journalists are accused of lewd, aggressive and outrageous misconduct against co-workers and women.”
Maddox, a native of Pittsburgh, joined WXYZ in 2011 as weekend anchor and eventually was promoted to morning anchor. Maddox is a former Marine who started off as a photojournalist and television news reporter.
WXYZ has since responded to the allegations in a story on their website saying:
"WXYZ is actively investigating the allegations that were made in the press conference.
As we continue our investigation, Malcom Maddox has been placed on administrative leave."
Contact Allie Gross: firstname.lastname@example.org