Lessenberry quits Metro Times amid misconduct claims

Louis Aguilar, and Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Less than a day after a report surfaced alleging Detroit-area journalist Jack Lessenberry has a history of inappropriate behavior and comments toward women, he has resigned from his role as a columnist for the Detroit Metro Times.

"... he tendered his resignation from Metro Times last night," Metro Times Editor-in-Chief Lee DeVito said in a column published Friday on the weekly tabloid's web site.

The news also comes a day after the Metro Times suspended Lessenbery, hours after Deadline Detroit reported allegations that Lessenberry made inappropriate comments or paid undue attention to women while an editor at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis in the early 1990s and later as a journalism instructor at Wayne State University.

“We have decided to suspend Jack Lessenberry while we look into the matter,” DeVito wrote in a Thursday email to The Detroit News.

On Friday, DeVito said in his column: "Jack didn’t agree with my decision. He pointed out that not one of the women in the Deadline story had come forward to file a formal complaint with WSU, and that his other employers, Michigan Public Radio and the Toledo Blade, had not decided to suspend him."

Wayne State, where Lessenberry is chair of the journalism department and a lecturer, said it will consider investigating although it has no pending complaints, said Linda Galante, WSU’s associate general counsel. Lessenberry has been affiliated with the Detroit university since 1993.

“It’s hard when you don’t have someone coming forward,” she said.

The university is aware of only one formal complaint about Lessenberry during his years there and no action was taken because it was determined to be “inadvertent touching,” spokesman Matt Lockwood said in an email.

Galante said the university will “probably sit down and have a discussion with a number of individuals” regarding the accusations.

In a Thursday email to The News, Lessenberry said he would let the “university attorney speak for me.”

In a response to Deadline Detroit, Lessenberry said the Detroit publication “presented me with a list of allegations, most of them untrue, that essentially amounted to innuendo.”

Lessenberry also is the ombudsman and writing coach at the Toledo Blade and a senior political analyst for Michigan Radio.

The Blade will investigate, said Luann Sharp, director of marketing for the Toledo newspaper.

Lessenberry was a foreign correspondent and national editor for The Detroit News in the 1980s.


Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN