Former Recording Academy and Grammy Awards CEO Neil Portnow had vehemently denied rape and misconduct allegations.
The 2020 Grammy Awards have nearly arrived, and though it’s important to reserve final judgments until all is said and done, the 62nd annual ceremony seems destined to be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Behind-the-scenes controversy has boiled over and become very, very public. The short version of the multifaceted conflict is that the Recording Academy, which organizes the Grammys, placed its CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave, citing “a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy itself.”
Five days after being ousted, Dugan fired back at the Recording Academy by filing a discrimination and sexual harassment complaint. The complaint alleges that Dugan was unfairly targeted “to shift the focus away from its (the Recording Academy’s) own unlawful activity.”
Additionally, Dugan claims that the Recording Academy concealed sexual crimes committed by former CEO Neil Portnow, who lost his job after saying that women needed to “step up” if they wished to win more awards. Portnow is directly accused of raping a female artist in the complaint.
Now, at a time when pre-Grammy excitement should be brewing, Neil Portnow is making headlines for his response to Dugan.
In a statement, Portnow called Dugan’s allegations “ludicrous.”
Portnow also indicated that the referenced “baseless complaint” was disproven by an “in-depth independent investigation by experienced and highly regarded lawyers”—and while Portnow was still CEO of the Recording Academy. Lastly, Portnow denied demanding a $750,000 payment after stepping down (Duncan claimed that she was pressured to issue said payment).
Portnow’s alleged victim, Dugan’s alleged misconduct, and other pieces of the puzzle haven’t yet been revealed. Whoever is found to be in the right—and the wrong—there’s a good chance that the fallout will have a far-reaching impact on the Recording Academy and the Grammys.
The 2020 ceremony will take place this Sunday, January 26th, in Los Angeles. Alicia Keys is set to host, and interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. will step in for Dugan.