Detroit Free Press fires opinion editor after investigation

MarketsAssociated Press

The Detroit Free Press fired Stephen Henderson, its managing director of opinion and commentary, after finding what it called credible allegations of inappropriate behavior with female colleagues, the newspaper announced Friday.

Free Press Editor and Vice President Peter Bhatia announced Henderson's termination in a story that said the allegations go back several years. Gannett Co. Inc., the newspaper's parent company, says Henderson's behavior "has been inconsistent with company values and standards."

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Henderson said in a statement to The Detroit News and Crain's Detroit Business that he is "stunned."

"I dedicated 18 years to this newspaper over three decades, all of it performing at the highest level," Henderson said. "I may have more to say on this later, but for now there is much other work to be done here in the city of Detroit."

Bhatia called it "a devastatingly sad day for us at the Free Press."

"Stephen is a magnificent journalist and a treasured colleague who has done so much for Detroit," Bhatia said. He added there were no accusations of sexual assault, but said the incidents involving inappropriate behavior and comments directed at Free Press employees ran counter to company policies.

Henderson's dismissal comes amid a flood of sexual misconduct allegations roiling Hollywood, politics and the media. No further details would be released, Bhatia said, "out of respect for the privacy of the women involved" and Henderson.

Henderson worked at the newspaper from 1994-96 and from 2007 until Friday. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2014 for his columns.