The Michigan Radio network announced that veteran journalist and senior political columnist Jack Lessenberry has resigned in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations that have circulated for less than a week. According to a statement by the University of Michigan, which holds the license for the public radio network, Lessenberry and the network parted ways by “mutual agreement. This followed investigation that revealed that women have lodged complaints about Lessenberry’s behavior going back to the early 1990s through 2009.
According to Deadline Detroit, several women had complained about his comments and behavior during a stint at a newsroom in Memphis, and latter at Wayne State University. He joined the WSU faculty in 1993 where he heads the journalism department. Lessenberry, 66, resigned as columnist for Metro Times of Michigan last week when allegations were aired. He then decided to step away from teaching at WSU until an inquiry into his conduct has been completed. His salary at WSU as senior lecturer was $62,246-a-year at the public institution.
Lessenberry’s remaining roles as columnist and ombudsman at The [Toledo] Blade have so far not been affected. Michigan Radio broadcasts at WUOM-FM in Southeast Michigan, WFUM-FM in Flint, and WVGR-FM in West Michigan. Lessenberry denied the allegations against him, but Deadline Detroit quoted him as saying “...admitted my mistakes at the Commercial Appeal nearly 30 years, ago, which caused my career there to be destroyed."
Michigan Radio, through UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, noted, "By mutual agreement, Mr. Lessenberry’s responsibilities as a contracted contributor to Michigan Radio will end immediately. Mr. Lessenberry will officially resign from Michigan Radio effective July 31." Part of a statement Lessenberry gave to the university was released: "I am saddened by the events of the last several days and admit to absolutely no wrongdoing whatsoever, but [I] have decided to resign to pursue new opportunities and avoid distracting listeners from the fine work of Michigan Radio."
Lessenberry wrote to WSU Dean Matthew Seeger in a letter that he sent last Friday, according to WDIV:
Dear Dean Seeger --
As I told you on the phone this morning, I have decided I would like the university to conduct an investigation into the allegations about my behavior at Wayne State University made against me by Deadline Detroit.
I think this is entirely appropriate, and I would like my name cleared. I also think it would be appropriate for me to step aside from teaching this summer during this process.
I care about Wayne State's reputation as well as my own. I am ready to assist this investigation in any way, and to assist and brief whomever takes over my courses for the summer.
I am very comfortable with you releasing this to the media if you so choose.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.