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WTHR exec accused of discrimination lands new gig

April 24, 2013

The top executive at WTHR-TV Channel 13, who was recently accused of sexual discrimination by his former executive assistant, has been named vice president of news for Dispatch Broadcast Group, the local station's parent company.

John Cardenas joined WTHR in 2010, replacing former General Manager Jim Tellus, who had died suddenly at 47.  Last year, Cardenas also was named president of the local NBC affiliate.

He will also serve as president and GM of Columbus, Ohio-based Dispatch station WBNS-TV Channel 10, where he’d been news director for 11 years before coming to Indianapolis.

Cardenas’ return to Columbus in June is related to the planned retirement of WBNS president, Tom Griesdorn, the company said.

Dispatch did not say who will replace Cardenas at WTHR, which has been the city’s top-rated news station in recent years.

“The search is under way,” said Clyde Becker, director of creative services and marketing at WTHR.

The 48-year old Cardenas has been in the news recently for less auspicious reasons.

Last month, his former executive assistant at WTHR filed an age- and sexual discrimination lawsuit against the station and Dispatch.

Debbie Wiley, 60, of Carmel, alleges Cardenas was at times drunk and abusive and referred to her as “handicapped.” Wiley, who was fired last June, also alleges the station president made inappropriate sexually suggestive “and/or romantically suggestive physical contact” with her.

Wiley, a former Mrs. Indiana, said she complained to human resources about her boss and alleges she was fired, in retaliation. She is seeking unspecified financial damages in her suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Dispatch VP for human resources, Diana Riggby Gardner, told IBJ last month that the company denies Wiley’s allegations, but does not comment on personnel matters.

During Cardenas’ tenure at WTHR and WBNS, the stations ranked No. 1 in major newscast time periods, Dispatch said.

“John has done an outstanding job in both Indianapolis and Columbus over the past 14 years,” Dispatch Printing Co. vice-chairman and CEO Michael Fiorile said in a prepared statement.

Dispatch Printing owns the television group along with Columbus’ daily newspaper and other publications.

Cardenas is a native of Bolivia and worked at KPHO in Phoenix as news director earlier in his career and held management positions at stations in San Diego and Norfolk, Va.

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