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Television Vice Media suspends president and chief digital officer after sexual misconduct report

The offices of Vice Media in New York, Dec. 5, 2017.

NATALIE KEYSSAR/NYT

Vice has suspended two top executives after a New York Times report on sexual misconduct at the digital media company.

Vice Media has suspended its president, Andrew Creighton, and chief digital officer Mike Germano, as it investigates allegations against them, according to a company memo sent to employees Tuesday. A Vice spokesman declined to comment.

The Times had reported in late December that it found four settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation against Vice employees, including Creighton. The newspaper talked with more than two dozen women who say they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct, including groping and forced kisses.

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Vice Media co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi have apologized for the "boy's club" culture .

Vice has grown from a Canadian magazine to a dominant online video company, expanding into TV around the world.

In the memo, the company said that Creighton and Germano were the only two people named in the Times story who were still employed at Vice.

The Times reported that Vice paid a former female employee a $135,000 settlement in 2016 after she said she was fired when she rejected Creighton's advances. The Vice memo says her claims were found to lack merit at the time after a review by law firm, but a special committee of its board is looking at the matter now. It will make a recommendation on what to do before a Jan. 11 board meeting.

As for Germano, the memo says Vice's human-resources department and an external investigator are looking into the allegations. One woman told the Times that he had told her he didn't want to hire her because he wanted to have sex with her. Another woman said he pulled her on to his lap at a work event at a bar.

The memo, from Vice's chief operating officer and CFO Sarah Broderick, said the company will require mandatory sexual harassment training for all employees starting later this month and that the company was "committed" to having half of employees be female "at every level across the organization" by 2020. She said "pay parity" would come by the end of the year.

The reports of sexual misconduct at Vice are part of a wave of allegations of bad behaviour in media, entertainment and other industries, as well as politics, that have come in the aftermath of articles detailing Harvey Weinstein's decades of alleged rape and harassment this fall.

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