The former leader of the Recording Academy responsible for the Grammy Awards, Neil Portnow, is facing a lawsuit in Manhattan for alleged sexual battery, TON learnt.
The plaintiff, a musician, claims that Portnow drugged and raped her in 2018. The lawsuit also accuses the Academy of negligence.
It would be recalled that Portnow resigned from his position in 2019 after making derogatory remarks about women.
The Recording Academy, however, according to the New York Times, has vowed to “vigorously defend the Academy in this lawsuit.”
“We continue to believe the claims to be without merit,” it said.
The lawsuit did not immediately disclose the woman’s identity to protect her privacy.
A spokesperson for Portnow was said to be sceptical in responding to AFP’s request for comment. However, in the article published by the Times, he categorically denied the allegations.
TON understands that the lawsuit brings back previous criticisms of both Portnow and the Academy, ultimately leading to Portnow’s departure in 2019 after serving for 17 years. His departure followed controversial remarks he made, suggesting that women needed to “step up” to receive more recognition in an industry predominantly controlled by white men.
According to the newly filed court documents mentioned in the Times article, the female artist claims to have met Portnow at a Grammy-related event in New York, where the awards ceremony took place in 2018.
The woman alleges that Portnow invited her to his hotel room and offered her wine, which she consumed before starting to feel disoriented. The lawsuit states that Portnow did not consume any alcohol himself.
Despite expressing her desire to leave, the woman claims that Portnow informed her there were no available taxis. She reportedly lost consciousness shortly after the former executive told her: “I have been thinking about you for a very long time.”
According to the suit, the woman awoke throughout the night experiencing Portnow raping her and was still woozy the following day.
The report claimed that despite her initial concerns about his influence in the industry, the woman eventually shared her account with Academy officials, who unfortunately disregarded it. Additionally, the lawsuit reveals that she filed a police report against Portnow, but law enforcement authorities chose not to pursue charges at that time.
The accusation initially came to light in 2020 when Deborah Dugan, who had succeeded Portnow as the head of the Recording Academy, filed a comprehensive discrimination complaint against the organization. In her extensive 44-page filing, Dugan alleged that she had been suspended after raising issues related to sexual harassment, voting irregularities, and other forms of misconduct within the influential music institution.
Included in her complaint was the rape allegation, which Portnow promptly denied. Furthermore, Portnow’s controversial statement in 2018, urging women to “step up” during the height of the #MeToo movement, only added to the mounting criticism that the Academy exhibited a strong bias towards white male artists.