Media

Malcom Maddox, Accused in Lawsuit of Sexual Harassment, Won't Be Back at WXYZ


March 20, 2018, 9:56 PM by  Allan Lengel

WXYZ anchor Malcom Maddox, abruptly sidelined March 6 just hours after a former female colleague accused him of repeatedly coming on to her and asking "to engage in unwanted and unsolicited sexual acts," won't go back on the air, Deadline Detroit learns.

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Malcom Maddox

Maddox and the station are parting ways, staff members at the ABC affiliate were told last Friday. It's unclear if he got severance pay, or the station agreed to pay out the rest of his contract, or whether he voluntarily stepped down or was fired.

No one was available Tuesday night at WXYZ for comment. A message seeking comment was left for Mike Murri, vice president and general manager.  

The departure comes two weeks after past WXYZ reporter Tara Edwards filed a $100-million sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court in Detroit. Hours later, E.W. Scripps Co., Inc., the parent company of WXYZ, said that "to avoid any further distraction . . . Malcom Maddox will be off the air for the time being,"

Since then, there had been no public statement about his future.

The company at the time went on to explain: 

In early 2015, when allegations about Malcom Maddox’s workplace behavior came to light, WXYZ immediately conducted an investigation. The investigation found that Maddox had engaged in inappropriate communications with coworkers that did not conform to the policies of WXYZ or its parent company.

The E.W. Scripps Co. Maddox was disciplined immediately, receiving a two-week unpaid suspension, consistent with company procedures.

The female employee who voiced these concerns [Edwards] continued to work at WXYZ. She was not fired or forced out -- she left the company voluntarily in December 2016 for personal reasons.

When the events from the 2015 investigation were raised again in [December] 2017, Scripps itself investigated, strongly encouraging employees to share anything they knew about the prior situation or possible problems since then. Nothing was reported that warranted additional discipline.

Scripps then brought in an outside independent investigator early this year, who also found no evidence of further misconduct by Maddox after his 2015 discipline.

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After the internal probe last year, Maddox was allowed to return to the air. 

Despite the early action taken in 2015, and the subsequent investigation in 2017, the graphic allegations in Edwards' lawsuit proved too much for the company, which again removed Maddox from the air. 

Edwards' lawsuit alleged that Maddox propositions included asking if he could spit in her mouth and urinate on her during sexual activity.  She also accused him of sending a photo of his penis.

Edwards, a 2001 University of Michigan graduate, worked for the station from June 2011 until Dec. 31, 2016. Her 16-page civil rights lawsuit says she was subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. When she complained, the legal filing says, she was "retaliated against, and constructively discharged from her employment."

Edwards, now living in Texas, names  WXYZ and its parent company as defendants. 

"I was so  helpless, so hopeless," she said at a press conference after the lawsuit was filed. "I used to think no one would believe my story."

Maddox, a former Marine who grew up in Pittsburgh, is married and has three children.

A private message was left on his Facebook page Tuesday night seeking comment. 

Earlier coverage:

'My Own Nightmare:' Tara Edwards Felt 'Helpless, Hopeless and Voiceless' at WXYZ, March 6



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