An anonymous musician has accused the former head of the Grammys, Neil Portnow, of rape in a new lawsuit.
As reported by the New York Times, the suit alleges that Portnow drugged and raped the musician in a New York City hotel room in 2018.
While the artist is not named in the suit, they are identified as an instrumentalist from outside the United States who once performed at Carnegie Hall. The musician is said to have contacted the Recording Academy, which runs the Grammys, in 2018 about the alleged crime.
Portnow stood down from his position as President of the Recording Academy in 2019, following a backlash to his comments the previous year, when he said female artists needed to “step up” in order to have their success recognised.
In a statement also issued to the New York Times, the musician’s lawyer Jeffrey R. Anderson said: “Neil Portnow gives lip service to women as standing up. But he does a disservice to every woman and every musician who is being oppressed by him and others. This is not just about Neil Portnow and not just about the Recording Academy, but about the culture in the music and entertainment industry and its doublespeak about rape and abuse.”
A representative for Portnow has denied the allegations, describing them as “the product of the plaintiff’s imagination and undoubtedly motivated by Mr. Portnow’s refusal to comply with the plaintiff’s outrageous demands for money and assistance in obtaining a residence visa for her.”
The statement continued that “the latest incarnation” of her accusations “offers a ‘new and improved’ story, padding it with even more outrageous and untrue allegations.”
Portnow’s successor as President of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan, was herself placed on leave in January 2020 following an accusation of misconduct by a “senior female member of the Recording Academy team.”
Just three weeks before her dismissal, Dugan had sent a memo detailing her concerns over serious issues such as voting irregularities, financial mismanagement, “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal bills, and conflicts of interest from voters.
Days after being placed on leave, Dugan filed her own lawsuit against the Academy, claiming that the decision “was in direct retaliation to her complaint”. Her suit also alleged that she was subjected to sexual harassment.
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