There’s an awards this week, y’say? The Grammys will undoubtedly make a splash as usual, but the event continues to be overshadowed by the fallout from president and CEO Deborah Dugan being placed on administrative leave, and her subsequent complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The claims in that document of a rape allegation against former Academy boss Neil Portnow, as well as pressure from the organisation to pay him a $750k consultancy, has drawn a statement from him denying both claims. “The allegations of rape are ludicrous, and untrue. The suggestion that there was is disseminating a lie,” said Portnow. There was a complaint about his conduct, he continued, but: “An in-depth independent investigation by experienced and highly regarded lawyers was conducted and I was completely exonerated.” Billboard has the full statement, as well as the response of Dugan’s attorneys.
The Recording Academy’s outside general counsel, Joel Katz, has also responded to the EEOC complaint, in which Dugan accused him of sexually harassing her at a dinner meeting. “Ms. Dugan’s allegations of harassment and her description of a dinner at the steakhouse in the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel are false and Mr. Katz categorically and emphatically denies her version of that evening,” said Katz’s statement, which Billboard also has in full. He says he will “cooperate in any and all investigations or lawsuits by telling the absolute and whole truth”.
And still it continues. Variety reports on a statement published by Tammy Hurt, Christine Albert, Leslie Ann Jones and Terry Jones, the four women on the executive committee of the Recording Academy. “It is deeply disturbing to us – and quite frankly, heartbreaking – to witness the firestorm against our organization that has been unleashed. The Academy is keenly sensitive to any and all allegations of harassment or abuse, and we support the independent investigations that have been launched,” they wrote, while denying that the organisation is “a boys’ club”. “We stand ready to address all concerns, allegations and accusations with facts in hand.”
Dugan is set to appear on the prominent US TV show Good Morning America later today, which will almost certainly keep the news cycle churning for another day as the Grammys near. While the dispute is playing out in public for now, it’s the internal investigations, the process of the EEOC complaint, and the (surely increasingly likely) lawsuits that will be key to what happens next, and what the industry learns from it.