Former Grammy head flatly denies rape allegation

Agence France-Presse
Former Grammy head flatly denies rape allegation
Former CEO Neil Portnow denies the accusations made by Deborah Dugan, who was suspended from the organization

LOS ANGELES, USA – The former CEO of the embattled Recording Academy, the institution behind the Grammys, on Wednesday, January 22 rejected as “ludicrous and untrue” his ousted successor’s allegations that he raped an unnamed foreign female musician.

Neil Portnow’s denial comes one day after Deborah Dugan filed an explosive discrimination complaint against the Academy, which included the rape allegation, days after she was put on leave – and just before Sunday’s Grammy awards.

Dugan’s bombshell 44-page filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles claims she was suspended after raising concerns of sexual harassment, voting irregularities and other misconduct within one of music’s most powerful organizations.

Portnow – who stepped down as CEO after 17 years at the helm, amid outrage over his controversial comments that women artists should “step up” to gain more recognition for their work – said Dugan’s filing “is filled with inaccurate, false and outrageous and terribly hurtful claims against me.”

“The allegations of rape are ludicrous, and untrue. The suggestion that there was [a rape] is disseminating a lie,” read Portnow’s statement, published in full on Rolling Stone’s website.

He also denied demanding a $750,000 consulting fee to stay on as a consultant, which Dugan alleges was a proposal up before the Academy’s board.

Dugan’s filing dealt a major blow to the Recording Academy less than a week before the Grammys – music’s biggest night of the year.

Major nominees this time out include Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X.

Dugan’s assumption of her position in mid-2019 was meant to usher in a new era for the Academy, long dogged by allegations of promoting a music culture that was overwhelmingly white and male.

But Dugan, the first woman to lead the Academy, says she was sexually harassed by prominent entertainment lawyer Joel Katz, a general counsel to the organization.

She told the EEOC she sent an email on December 22 to the institution’s human resources department detailing that accusation as well as “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards, all made possible by the ‘boys club’ mentality and approach to governance at the Academy.”

Dugan says the Academy retaliated against her by putting her on leave for alleged misconduct and bullying.

The Academy in turn has disputed Dugan’s claims, and said a probe is under way to review her allegations. –


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