Former Head of Grammys Neil Portnow Sued for Sexual Battery by Musician

Today, on November 8th, a musician initiated legal proceedings, alleging sexual battery against Neil Portnow, the former head of the Grammys and CEO of the Recording Academy, as reported by The New York Times via Variety.

The musician’s identity remains undisclosed, but she is described as an instrumentalist known for performing at Carnegie Hall and hailing from a foreign country. According to the lawsuit, the musician first encountered Portnow at a Recording Academy event in January 2018, after which he extended an invitation to her to attend the Grammy Awards ceremony.

The legal action asserts that several months later, the musician met Portnow again at a hotel in June, where she purportedly lost consciousness after consuming wine provided by him. Upon regaining consciousness, she alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Portnow. The lawsuit claims that the instrumentalist contacted the Recording Academy to report the assault and also attempted to file a police report, though the district attorney’s office declined to take action.

The allegations against Portnow initially came to public attention in early 2020 when Deborah Dugan, his successor, was removed from her position at the Recording Academy following her complaint against him and others within the organization, filed in late 2019. In response to the allegations, Portnow resigned from his role as CEO of the Recording Academy, and Dugan took his place until she was subsequently placed on administrative leave and terminated by the company, according to Variety.

The recent lawsuit, filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, not only accuses Portnow of sexual battery but also alleges negligence on the part of the Recording Academy. The musician provided evidence of her communications with the Recording Academy concerning the incident in 2018.

“Neil Portnow gives lip service to women as standing up,” commented the musician’s attorney, Jeffrey R. Anderson. “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 speaking on behalf of Portnow issued a statement refuting the allegations, branding them as false and speculating that they were motivated by the musician’s pursuit of financial gain and assistance in securing a residence visa.

“We continue to believe the claims to be without merit and intend to vigorously defend the Academy in this lawsuit,” declared the Recording Academy in a statement to Variety.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, resources are available for help. Visit the RAINN website (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) or dial 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).



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