Suspended Grammys chief Deborah Dugan alleges sexual misconduct in Recording Academy

Deborah Dugan

She has detailed allegations of sexual harassment, conflicts of interest and voting irregularities within the body.

Dugan's complaint alleges that her assistant was monitoring her emails and sharing information with Academy board members and executives.

Dugan replaced former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow following his controversial comments at the 2018 ceremony, where he said female artists needed to step up in response to criticism over the lack of awards handed to women.

A lawyer for Katz, Howard Weitzman, told the New York Times in a statement that Dugan's allegations of harassment and her description of their dinner "are false, and Mr. Katz categorically and emphatically denies her version of that evening".

Portnow could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday. Little is still listed as his primary representative, and her email returns a message that she is out of office "on leave".

In a letter Dugan sent to HR that was included as part of her complaint, Dugan said that Katz made advances toward her at a dinner last May, just after she was appointed as CEO (but before officially starting). Per Dugan, the artist ended up with a nod, despite ranking near the bottom.

Dugan detailed the harassment and other issues in an email to an academy human resources executive on December 22, according to the complaint.

While trying to resolve a lawsuit against the academy, Dugan said one of the claimants characterized the organization's leadership as "a boys' club" that "put their financial interest above the mission". "This blatant form of retaliation in corporate America is all too common, even post #MeToo, and we will utilize all lawful means necessary to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions". It has since been reported that she faced accusations of bullying by a female employee, which Dugan denies. Both of these investigations remain ongoing. According to reports from Billboard and Variety, on January 10th, less than a week before she was placed on leave, she demanded $22M from the Academy to withdraw her complaints and quietly step down from her position.

Dugan said she was removed as retaliation for uncovering misconduct at the Academy, which runs the awards. "Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave only after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organisation". As alleged in the charge, artists, other board members and employees have all raised virtually all of the concerns raised by Ms. Dugan.

In her complaint (read it here), Dugan alleges that she had been contracted by Katz prior to the meeting and that he had requested that they have "dinner with him alone" the night of May 18.

"The board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy's membership, fix Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators", the academy said in a statement. To begin, Mr. Katz repeatedly referred to Ms. Dugan as 'baby, ' rather than by her name. The Board Chair demanded an answer within the hour. "Ms. Dugan quickly turned away, repulsed".

"Ms Dugan's claims are made, for the first time, seven months after this dinner took place", he added. "That is not a credible story".

Read Dugan's full EEOC complaint here.

While the investigation continues, board chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim President and CEO.

"The Executive Committee is trying to paint Ms. Dugan as a money-hungry liar. In reality, Ms. Dugan took the CEO job at the Academy because she firmly believes that music can save lives", the complaint concludes.

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