Detroit Free Press reporter resigns amid claims of inappropriate contact with teens
A Detroit Free Press reporter announced his resignation Friday following allegations he had inappropriate contact with teenage girls while working for another publication.
"While it’s difficult and embarrassing to discuss, it’s time to man up to my faults," Branden Hunter said in a series of tweets from his private Twitter account that were circulated online. "Years ago, I exercised horrible judgment by communicating with younger girls in high school.”
Hunter, who has been a neighborhood reporter at the Free Press since January, went on to say: “I also apologize to my family, friends, and anyone else I let down because of my life decisions and selfishness."
He added in another tweet: “I deserve and accept the criticism and any detraction that comes along with it. I promise I will continue to do better and I hope that I can be forgiven for my shortcomings.”
The resignation came after protesters demonstrated Monday outside the Free Press offices in downtown Detroit, calling for Hunter to be terminated.
In an open letter addressed to the newspaper and posted online, the protesters alleged he was "recently outed by various sources for predatory behavior, stalking and sexual advances made against underage girls."
The same day, New York journalist Kinsey Clarke tweeted that she and three other professionals had emailed the Free Press "about the alleged sexual harassment of underage girls by their reporter Branden Hunter when he was a high school sports reporter for the Michigan Chronicle."
According to an online biography, Hunter worked at the Michigan Chronicle for two years before joining the Free Press.
In an email to The Detroit News on Friday, the Free Press' editor and vice president, Peter Bhatia, said: "Once the allegations became known to us, we conducted a thorough investigation including multiple interviews. We met with Branden today, and he decided to resign."
In his tweets Friday, Hunter said "although nothing happened sexually, inappropriate conversations are just as damaging, and I apologize to those I affected. I was wrong and I am owning it."
He added: “I am especially embarrassed about this situation, as I have worked hard to build my platform as an advocate for my people and community. I appreciate those who have held me accountable and I hope we continue to do this within our community.”