(WJBK) - WXYZ (Channel 7) said it has placed morning anchor Malcom Maddox on administrative leave while the station investigates sexual harassment complaints made against him.
The announcement followed a news conference Wednesday morning called by a Detroit reverend who said he has knowledge of a sexual harassment cover-up at the Southfield-based station.
Rev. W.J. Rideout of All God's People Church said he learned a WXYZ employee, whom he did not name, went to management to report sexual harassment by Maddox, and that management changed the employee's schedule and continued to advance Maddox’s career at Channel 7.
"I think that they need to fire Malcom Maddox, number one. He needs to be fired or resign," Rideout said.
Rideout says the employee wanted Maddox to stop texting, calling, emailing, and showing her explicit pictures, but that Maddox continued the behavior. He says management told the employee this needed to be reported to the station's general manager, Mike Murri, because they were preparing to promote Maddox to the main morning show anchor position.
"The employee says she was questioned and was told to respect her boundaries - after reporting sexual harassment she was told to respect her boundaries," Rideout said.
Rideout says after the employee reported the incident to the GM, Maddox was still promoted and that the employee’s schedule was moved.
Rideout also said he has knowledge this was not an isolated incident, and claims numerous other employees say they were also shown explicit pictures and endured sexual innuendos. Rideout even claimed knowledge of a sexual act involving Maddox and an intern in the station parking lot.
Rideout said he couldn't give any more details because some of the alleged victims asked to be anonymous, or were preparing lawsuits and had obtained lawyers.
FOX 2 has spoken with multiple women who worked with Maddox at Channel 7 and confirm Rideout's allegations about Maddox. Sources also tell FOX 2 that Maddox was investigated and suspended in 2015 and when he came back, he was promoted to morning anchor.
"The station was made aware of these claims. Channel 7 knew about it, Mike Murri knew about it, Rideout said. "We want justice today for all these victims."
Rideout says the victims wish to remain anonymous for now but he felt the need to come forward on their behalf.
Rideout also made reference to retiring WXYZ anchor Stephen Clark and Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson but offered no specifics.
WXYZ posted this statement on their website in response to the press conference:
Earlier today in a press conference by Reverend W.J. Rideout here in Detroit, allegations were made that WXYZ ignored sexual harassment complaints made by employees against Anchor Malcom Maddox.
WXYZ is actively investigating the allegations that were made in the press conference.
As we continue our investigation, Malcom Maddox has been placed on administrative leave.