Maine Media Collective says it is ending its relationship with owner and former publisher Kevin Thomas, who was accused last week of sexual harassment by a former employee.

Andrea King, current CEO and publisher of Maine Media Collective, made the announcement late Monday, just hours after the company abruptly canceled its high-end food-themed Kennebunkport Festival amid concerns from chefs and sponsors.

“My colleagues and I at Maine Media Collective were stunned by recent news coverage about our organization,” King said in a prepared statement. “The issues brought to light by our former colleague Jessie Lacey are serious and of great concern to us.

“While the working conditions Ms. Lacey described in her blog post relate to the alleged actions of former management eight years ago, we want to apologize and assure you in the strongest possible way that such conditions are neither present nor tolerated at MMC today.” Lacey, who worked as a designer for Maine Media Collective, the parent company of Maine Magazine, Maine Home + Design and several other glossy magazines, alleged last week that Thomas twice kissed her without her permission while the two were having drinks at a Portland bar in March 2010.

Another co-worker, Susan Grisanti, had been with them but left before the encounter, Lacey said in a detailed post last week on the website Medium.

Lacey said she and Thomas agreed the next day to move on, but she said, “What followed was an agonizing eight months of systematic bullying, relentless gaslighting, and calculated mental harassment the likes of which I had never before, or since, experienced.”

Lacey left the company a short time later and said she debated for two years about coming forward with her story. Ultimately, she said, the #MeToo movement, which has empowered women across the country to share stories of abuse and harassment, spurred her to go public.

Thomas, in a statement issued last week, acknowledged kissing Lacey and said it was wrong, but he disputed her characterization of events.

Last week, King had said Thomas was “transitioning away from the company,” but didn’t offer specifics.

That changed late Monday.

“Former publisher Kevin Thomas has ended involvement with the company effective immediately,” she said. “We have begun looking into options for transferring ownership from Kevin Thomas. This cannot be done within days, but we are examining various options as quickly as possible.”

A call to Thomas seeking comment was not returned Monday night.

King’s statement Monday came amid growing criticism and concern from businesses that had started to distance themselves from Maine Media Collective.

David Turin, a well-known chef, announced on Facebook that he planned to withdraw his participation in the Kennebunkport Festival, a glitzy event sponsored by Maine Magazine that was scheduled for June.

“After a review of the current situation, David’s Restaurants have notified the Maine Media Collective (Maine Magazine) that we are withdrawing from the Kennebunkport Festival this year,” he wrote.

Maine Art Gallery, Kennebunk Beach Realty, Pack Maynard & Associates Real Estate, Old Vines Wine Bar, HB Provisions and the Breakwater Inn & Spa all announced that they were withdrawing as well. By late Monday morning, the festival posted a statement on its website saying the event was canceled.

In past years, the festival has featured a series of intimate dinners put on by some of Maine’s top chefs in some of the seaside town’s most exquisite homes. It also has featured a gala party, cocktail receptions, tasting events, an outdoor concert and special fixed-price menus at local restaurants.

“We are (canceling) because we don’t want recent news about Maine Media Collective to cast a shadow over the festival,” the statement read. “We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and advertisers and to all of you who have purchased tickets. All ticket holders will receive a full refund.”

Merrilee Paul, who owns the Kennebunk restaurant 50 Local with her husband, applauded local businesses for standing up.

“We are happy to see area businesses putting their money where their values are and pulling out of the Kennebunkport Festival,” she wrote. “50 Local has not been involved in the self-serving Kennebunkport Festival sponsored by the Maine Magazine for eight years as we had heard talk of the most recent press and allegations. We do not advertise with them, support them, or even thumb through their multiple publications. We do not support a business of that nature.”

King, in her statement Monday, pledged to conduct a “full inquiry” into Lacey’s allegations.

“We take these revelations very seriously and are committed to doing the right thing. And we commit to you, our community, that no one at our company – present or future – will be immune from the consequences of such behavior in the workplace,” she said. “No one should be subject to the sort of conditions described by Ms. Lacey. Such behavior is simply and completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by us. Ever.”

Lacey, in a Facebook post after news about the festival’s cancellation, said she’s been overwhelmed by community support since she went public with her story.

“With all the support I am getting and with all the advertisers and sponsors pulling out of MMC’s magazines, I can see now that Kevin does not have power, and MMC doesn’t have power,” she wrote. “They don’t own this city. We do. The artists, the creatives, the writers, the restaurateurs who make Portland, and Kennebunk, and all the other towns that MMC had seemingly monopolized, we built those places.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.