Former Recording Academy Chief Neil Portnow Accused of Raping Female Recording Artist, EEOC Claim Says
Neil Portnow, the former CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, is being accused of raping a female recording artist in a new discrimination complaint filed by ousted exec Deborah Dugan.
In the complaint filed Tuesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dugan says that Portnow “allegedly raped a female recording artist, which was, upon information and belief, the real reason his contract was not renewed.”
Dugan was announced as Portnow’s successor in May 2019 and is the first woman to hold the position.
Dugan says that in May 2019, she attended a three-day meeting of the Academy’s Board at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. She alleged that during that weekend, “Ms. Dugan was hauled into a conference room and told — for the very first time — that a foreign recording artist (and member of the Academy) had accused Mr. Portnow of raping her following a performance that she gave at Carnegie Hall.”
Dugan alleged that the news was presented to her as if the Board had just learned of the allegation but says in the complaint, “In reality, they were well aware of the allegation at the time Ms. Dugan agreed to take the CEO position, but never told her.” Dugan also says the Recording Academy pressured her into rehiring Portnow as a consultant for the “hefty sum of $750,000,” which she denied.
Dugan added that she was sexually harassed by the Academy’s general counsel Joel Katz during the three-day meeting.
Dugan also said that a letter sent by interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. to the Academy membership on Monday was “designed to retaliate against Ms. Dugan, threaten her, and malign her reputation.”
In the letter, Mason Jr. said that Dugan was placed on administrative leave after the Academy’s executive committee received a letter from Dugan’s attorney saying she would agree to step down from her role as CEO and “withdraw” her accusations if she was paid out, with Billboard reporting on Monday she asked for the sum of $22 million.
Neil Portnow could not be immediately reached for comment. TheWrap has reached out to the Recording Academy and Joel Katz for comment.
You can read Dugan’s complaint with the EEOC below.