BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) – Former Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow is denying an allegation from his ousted successor that he sexually assaulted a foreign singer and that Academy executives were aware of the alleged incident when they hired him.
Neil Portnow, who stepped down as CEO of the Recording Academy last year, released a statement Wednesday calling the allegations that he raped a “foreign recording artist” after her show at Carnegie Hall in New York “inaccurate, false and outrageous and terribly hurtful”.
The allegation was contained in a document filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles by Deborah Dugan, who was recently ousted as CEO of the Recording Academy, which is set to host its annual Grammy Awards this Sunday.
In a statement, Portnow said: “The allegations of rape are ludicrous, and untrue. The suggestion that there was is disseminating a lie. The baseless complaint about my conduct referenced in the EEOC filing was immediately brought to the attention of the Board of Director’s Executive Committee. An in-depth independent investigation by experienced and highly regarded lawyers was conducted and I was completely exonerated. There was no basis for the allegations and once again I deny them unequivocally.”
Portnow also denied that he asked Dugan to pay him a $750,000 fee for consulting services. Dugan also alleged members of the board asked Dugan to put him on retainer — a reported request Portnow did not address in Wednesday’s statement.
Dugan’s complaint said members of the Recording Academy board informed her of the accusation against Portnow in May 2019. Though the artist who suffered the alleged rape is not named in the EEOC filing, the document notes that “a psychiatrist has confirmed that the sexual encounter between her and Mr. Portnow was likely not consensual.”
Portnow was replaced by Dugan on Aug. 1 as the first female president of the Recording Academy after Portnow made remarks in 2018 calling for female artists to “step up” if they wanted to be recognized at the Grammys, which triggered a social media backlash.
The Recording Academy will present the 62nd Grammy Awards in downtown L.A. on Sunday on CBS2.