Torrington show canceled following accusation of radio host's misconduct

Garrison Keillor. (File photo)

A Torrington performance with a popular Minnesota radio host accused of improper conduct toward a woman has been canceled.

Garrison Keillor was let go from Minnesota Public Radio and canceled a performance set for Wednesday night in Pittsfield, MA.

However, Keillor was on the ticket to make an appearance at the Warner Theater in Torrington. As of Thursday afternoon, the box office told Channel 3 that the show was canceled.

More than 1,100 tickets were sold for this show. On Wednesday night, the theater told Channel 3 that it planned to go ahead with the show.

“The Garrison Keillor story is interesting because of his denial of the allegations and his version of the story,” Hillary Fussell Sisco, who teaches crisis communications management at Quinnipiac University, said. “His commitment to his show in Torrington tonight would support that he feels he is innocent of this allegation.”

Keillor is yet another case of a high profile figure being accused of inappropriate conduct. Fussell Sisco said she's not surprised about the fallout.

"This kind of behavior is not going to be accepted by men, by women, by societies, by organizations, by employers and we really need to recognize that that’s where it is," Fussell Sisco said.

Keillor is known for his breathy baritone voice, being a folksy all-American and providing a wholesome style of radio. He's been one of the most popular radio personalities in the country for the past 40 years.

His tales of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, MN invoked a slice of Americana that made him beloved for decades.

Now, he's accused of behaving inappropriately toward a woman, which forced Minnesota Public Radio to sever ties with him.A person could not hope for more than what I was given. I've been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are. It's some sort of poetic irony to be knocked off the air by a story, having told so many of them myself, but I'm 75 and don't have any interest in arguing about this. And I cannot in conscience bring danger to a great organization I've worked hard for since 1969. I am sorry for all the poets whose work I won't be reading on the radio and sorry for the people who will lose work on account of this. But my profound feeling is that of gratitude, especially to my wife Jenny, and for this painful experience that has brought us even closer together," Keillor posted on his website. The details of the incident have not been made public.

Though, Keillor sent an email to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis in response to the accusations.

He said "I put my hand on a woman's bare back. I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized, I sent her an email of apology and she replied that she had forgiven me and to think about it."

The woman who made the accusations has not been identified. She does have an attorney.

In Torrington, longtime Keillor fans said they are saddened by the news.

"It's surprising and it's disappointing because we always considered him to be a wholesome character," said Steve Caruso of Torrington. "We went for many years to see his show at Tanglewood. It was just good fun. And yes, the feeling and the sentiment was just he's a good wholesome character. It's very disappointing."

The show at the Warner Theater was scheduled for 8 p.m. It was to included a live performance with folk music, singing and talking.

Nearby businesses have mixed feelings about the news.

"I’m sad that the show is cancelled as a business downtown I do depend a lot on the Warner shows. I always stay open late," Rachel Kelly with Kellys Crystals Boutique said. "I actually had planned on staying open late for the show."

"If you can’t be a gentleman, you shouldn’t be allowed to be in that position," Rick O’Donnell, who is owner of Remember Me, said.

Cancellation notices posted all throughout the Warner Theater and to make sure every single person gets the message. The box office says they will be calling each individual customer and they will also be getting information on how they can get a refund.

It is important to note that Keillor has an extremely loyal and devoted following.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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