Ex-Grammys Head Neil Portnow Accused of Rape in Shocking Claim from Former CEO
Neil Portnow, the former CEO of the Recording Academy, has stepped down after being accused of raping an unnamed recording artist by his successor, Deborah Dugan, who was placed on administrative leave last week for alleged misconduct.
According to Variety, Dugan, who took the reins as President and CEO at the beginning of August in 2019, filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which states Portnow “allegedly raped a female recording artist” (unnamed, but described as “foreign”), “which was, upon information and belief, the real reason his contract was not renewed.”
Dugan's bombshell claim also alleges she was forced out of her job in a retaliatory manner after lodging a complaint in December about sexual harassment, voting irregularities with the Grammy Awards, self-dealing and conflicts of interest.
Her claim dives more granularly into specific egregious financial accounting issues by the organization, as well as details of how it manipulates the nominations process, specifically pushing artists (regardless of measurable merit) that it has relationships with.
Variety reports that the Recording Academy did not respond to their inquiry on the claim except to reiterate its own original claims against Dugan, which included a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team.
Dugan's counsel noted in a statement: "The attempt by the Recording Academy to impugn the character of Deborah Dugan is a transparent effort to shift the focus away from its own unlawful activity. This blatant form of retaliation in corporate America is all too common, even post #MeToo, and we will utilize all lawful means necessary to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”
In May 2018, the Recording Academy announced that Portnow would leave his position when his contract ran out in July of 2019. The move came after Portnow drew intense criticism for a remark he made after the 2018 Grammy Awards. When only one woman won an on-camera award, Portnow said female artists needed to "step up." Dugan's subsequent appointment was widely viewed as a move toward greater diversity and inclusion.
The 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony is set to air live on Jan. 26. It is unclear at press time how these events will affect the broadcast. Dugan had already planned to break with Portnow's tradition and not address the audience onstage during the broadcast, so she will not have to be replaced or written out.
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