US & Canada

US editor Michael Oreskes resigns after harassment claims

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news NPR, speaks during the rededication of the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, DC, June 5, 2017 Image copyright AFP
Image caption A current NPR employee has gone public about a formal complaint she filed against Mr Oreskes

A senior editor accused of kissing female colleagues without their consent during business meetings has resigned.

Michael Oreskes, 63, was asked to step down by the National Public Radio (NPR) network in response to the allegations.

The incidents allegedly occurred in the late 1990s, when Mr Oreskes worked at the New York Times.

He has not commented publicly on the allegations, and journalists at NPR report that they have tried to contact him for comment, without success.

The network says the allegations were addressed in an email to staff on Wednesday. "This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behaviour," NPR CEO Jarl Mohn wrote.

He said the resignation was "effective immediately".

Two women spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, and reported stories of abrupt and unexpected kisses during business meetings. They said they were worried about career development if their names were made public.

One of the women said that while she met Mr Oreskes in the hope of getting a job with the New York Times, he suggested that they eat room service lunch in a hotel, before he unexpectedly kissed her and "slipped his tongue into her mouth".

She told the paper: "The worst part of my whole encounter with Oreskes wasn't the weird offers of room service lunch or the tongue kiss but the fact that he utterly destroyed my ambition."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption NPR hired Michael Oreskes as senior vice president for news in 2015

The second woman said she met Mr Oreskes after he offered to help review her work.

She drove him to the airport as he had a flight to catch after their meeting, but he unexpectedly kissed her while saying goodbye.

"I was frozen. I was shocked. I thought, 'What just happened?'" she recalled.

Later, she said, when she confronted him directly about the incident, he told her he was "overcome with passion".

The Washington Post said it had made "multiple requests for comment" to Mr Oreskes, but none had been answered.

Meanwhile, a third woman, a current NPR employee, has detailed a formal complaint she filed against Mr Oreskes with the network back in 2015 after a business advice session she had with him turned into a long evening dinner.

She said he divulged many personal details and veered into topics including relationships and sex. He did not touch her inappropriately, she said, and she was satisfied by the response when she reported the incident to NPR.

Mr Oreskes, who had senior editorial roles at the New York Times and Associated Press, was hired as senior vice president for news at NPR in 2015.

There have been growing sexual harassment allegations against public figures in recent weeks, sparked by multiple women's allegations of behaviour from sexual harassment to rape by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and a subsequent campaign encouraging victims to share their stories under the #metoo hashtag.

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