Update: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tells New Times his decision to give Tony Robbins the key to the city "is based solely on his decades of serving as a positive force." Suarez's full statement has been posted below.
A spokeswoman for Robbins says he is a "convenient celebrity target" who is being taken down by "manipulation of the facts." Robbins' full statement has also been posted below.
Over the summer, BuzzFeed published a five-part investigative series revealing that motivational coach and self-help guru Tony Robbins is maybe not such a great dude after all. In the stories, multiple former staffers accuse Robbins of sexual harassment, including allegations he forced female assistants to work alone with him in hotel rooms while he was naked or in the shower. Numerous fans claimed Robbins groped them or exposed himself to them during or after seminars. Shortly after the allegations were brought to light, Simon & Schuster reportedly dropped Robbins' forthcoming book, The Path: Accelerating Your Journey to Financial Freedom.
Nevertheless, yesterday Miami Mayor Francis Suarez posted on Instagram that he had given Robbins a symbolic "key to the city" and proclaimed November 6 "Tony Robbins Day."
"This is sort of the key to our hearts and a key that lets you feel always welcome in the City of Miami. That's an amazing honor. And it's not my honor. It's what our residents — how our residents honor you," Suarez can be seen telling Robbins in a video clip of the presentation.
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?Proud to present the Key to the @cityofmiami to @tonyrobbins. Tony embodies the selfless spirit of #Miami by using positivity, inspiration, and philanthropy to uplift others and enrich their lives. As he says, “when you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.”?
In a statement, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tells New Times his decision to give Tony Robbins the key to the city "is based solely on his decades of serving as a positive force." Robbins has denied the accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Critics swooped in quickly on social media. Wrote documentarian Billy Corben: "10 women accuse Florida man Tony Robbins of 'sexual misconduct,' 'groping,' 'exposing himself' and 'mistreating vulnerable followers,' @MiamiMayor gives him the Key to the City #BecauseMiami."
10 women accuse Florida man Tony Robbins of "sexual misconduct," "groping," "exposing himself" and "mistreating vulnerable followers," @MiamiMayor gives him the Key to the City #BecauseMiami https://t.co/3kg5yz5xEZ pic.twitter.com/JjwNujmBQU— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) November 7, 2019
Miami Herald journalist Julie K. Brown, whose work exposed the shady deal prosecutors gave Jeffrey Epstein, also chimed in: "Apparently It's ok to abuse and harass women (and men) as long as you're a philanthropist."
In the BuzzFeed stories, Robbins' accusers shared horrific tales of mistreatment. One former assistant told how Robbins got out of the shower and dropped his towel, exposing himself to her. She yelled at him to cover up and tearfully ran from the room. A job interviewee claimed Robbins quizzed her about nudity and told her the gig could involve working closely with him and his girlfriend, who liked to be nude. And a woman at one of Robbins' seminars said he took her hand during a handshake and pressed it against his penis. (Robbins has denied all of the allegations.)
Robbins is in Miami this week for his conference Unleash the Power Within, which begins today at American Airlines Arena. Tickets to the event, which runs through Sunday, start at $1,095.
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Suarez released the following statement to New Times after publication:
As a father, husband, brother to three incredibly accomplished women and as Mayor, I am always committed to women's rights and hearing concerns off all women in our community. My decision to present Tony Robbins with the Key to the City of Miami is based solely on his decades of serving as a positive force. His ability to change lives, inspire and uplift people around the world through hope and philanthropy is something that resonates deeply with our community. It is my hope that, through these positive actions, we can spark important dialogue and build bridges between all races, genders and backgrounds.
Robbins' spokeswoman, Jennifer Connelly, also released the following statement to New Times:
The bullying by tabloid journalists and their reckless, vicious cancel culture agenda and manipulation of the facts to present a false, one-sided negative narrative supporting their predetermined agenda needs to stop. They continue to use Mr. Robbins as a convenient celebrity target.
Mr. Robbins remains focused on helping and serving others and was honored to spend the day in the City of Miami to support the local community and first responders.