‘On Point’ host Tom Ashbrook dismissed following investigations of bullying, harassment

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On Point host Tom Ashbrook has been dismissed by Boston University following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment and that he created a hostile work environment, the university announced Wednesday.

An investigation by Longpoint Consulting confirmed the claims of 11 former On Point employees who said Ashbrook created an abusive work culture through bullying, verbal assaults and intimidating actions, according to BU.

A second investigation by the law firm Holland & Knight looked into whether Ashbrook violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy. That investigation determined that though the host was responsible for unwanted physical contact, it “was not sexual in nature, and did not constitute sexual harassment,” according to the university.

On Point is produced by WBUR, which is operated by BU. The university said both investigations found that WBUR management was aware of Ashbrook’s behavior and “repeatedly talked with him about it, but was unsuccessful in changing his behavior.”

The university had placed Ashbrook on leave in December.

“I am deeply disappointed by this decision, which I believe is profoundly unfair both to me and the listeners who are been [sic] such a part of On Point,” Ashbrook said in a statement posted on WBUR’s website. “I am very proud of my sixteen years at WBUR, contributing to the national dialogue in a way that is especially important today. I am also proud of the extraordinary team who worked with me on the program and made it what it was.”

“WBUR and BU stated that the sole basis for this decision was my management of our team,” he added. “I believe that WBUR and Boston University failed in their responsibility to effectively address these issues when they arose when they could have been more easily resolved.”

Investigators talked with about 60 people, including current and former On Point staffers, WBUR management and Ashbrook.

“On Point employees expressed enormous pride in the program and they recognized that along with everyone else, Mr. Ashbrook was under a great deal of pressure to make sure that the two-hour daily program was perfect,” said Gary Nicksa, BU’s senior vice president for operations, in the article. “But the employees also described ways in which Mr. Ashbrook consistently overstepped reasonable lines and created a dysfunctional workplace in the process.”

The reports called on WBUR to develop a clear organizational structure for the show and to train employees about how to raise grievances.

“I recognize that we must do better in the future,” said Charlie Kravetz, WBUR GM, in the article. “Despite the high-pressure nature of so much of our work, we must all be committed to a positive, respectful, and compassionate work environment in every corner of WBUR. We welcome the University’s support and Longpoint’s continuing efforts.”

Longpoint Consulting will assist WBUR’s management team in implementing changes at the station.

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