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SPJ Detroit rescinds Jack Lessenberry's Lifetime Achievement Award

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Jul 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 16:44:47-04

The Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has rescinded the Lifetime Achievement Award given to Jack Lessenberry in 2017.

SPJ rescinded the award due to an outsider investigation at Wayne State University that concluded Lessenberry violated its sexual harassment policy.

In May, Lessenberry was accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior toward students in a story published in Deadline Detroit.

“The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor our chapter bestows upon an individual. Lessenberry’s actions were shameful and unprofessional,” said Michael Wayland, SPJ Detroit chapter president. “On behalf of the board, our thoughts are with all those who Lessenberry mistreated or put in compromising situations throughout his career.”

In a release, the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists said that the most troubling findings were Lessenberry's lewd behavior, which "involved student journalists who put their trust in the well-known veteran reporter as a mentor."

Additionally, the SPJ Detroit board of directors mentioned that they decided to wait to rescind Lessenberry's award until the Wayne State University-initiated investigation had concluded before taking official action. 

Lessenberry found out about the board's decision on Thursday, July 26.