Marc Smirnoff was fired as editor of The Oxford American after allegations of sexual harassment, it was revealed on Thursday.
The allegations emerged after a staff retreat over July 4th. The New York Times' Julie Bosman reported:
...things quickly went awry, beginning at night when Mr. Smirnoff berated young staff members playing drinking games, and continuing the next morning when he exploded in anger at a 19-year-old intern, then insisted that she ride home alone with him, asking her to hold his hand and accompany him to his favorite “make-out spot."
Smirnoff's own version of events backs that account up, and the magazine's board fired him days later. He has since hit out at the staff and the board, denying that his behavior constituted sexual harassment.
Prior to his firing, the board conducted an investigation which turned up other charges of harassment at the office. The Times reported that he "called female interns 'baby' and made lewd comments and unwanted sexual overtures," according to staff.
In an interview with Bosman, Smirnoff admitted to "hugging, patting and kissing interns on top of their heads." He defended his actions, however, as “paternalistic and nonsexual.”
He passed his conduct off as "joking" and "banter," comparing himself to Ricky Gervais' character on "The Office." “I have made bad jokes," Smirnoff said. "My intent with regards to that humor is just as important.”