Tavis Smiley Ordered to Pay PBS $2.6 Million for Sexual Misconduct

A judge has ordered TV host Tavis Smiley to pay $2.6 million to the Public Broadcasting Service for having multiple affairs with his subordinates.

A Washington, D.C., jury found in March that Smiley had breached the morals clause in his contract, following a three-week trial. The jurors heard deposition testimony from six women who accused Smiley of misconduct.

The jury awarded PBS $1.5 million, which included costs and underwriting revenue for the last two seasons of Smiley’s talk show. But following the trial, the network argued that it should be entitled to additional damages under the morals clause.

Judge Yvonne Williams agreed, issuing a ruling on Aug. 5 awarding PBS $2.6 million. That includes $1.9 million in liquidated damages — the amount paid by PBS to Smiley’s company, TS Media, for the show’s last two seasons. The judge also awarded PBS an additional $702,898 that corporate underwriters had paid to Smiley’s company for those seasons.

PBS suspended Smiley’s show in December 2017, after hiring an outside firm to look into complaints of sexual misconduct. Smiley sued the network in February 2018, and PBS countersued. The jury rejected Smiley’s claim that PBS had violated his contract by canceling his show.

In her ruling, Williams also denied Smiley’s bid to reduce the jury award.

One woman testified at the trial that Smiley made numerous sexual advances. When she rebuffed him, he said, “I’m tired of you telling me no. I’m tired of you rejecting me,” according to her testimony. “I’m going to show you what happens to people when they reject me.”

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Source: Variety