Deborah Dugan: suspended Grammys chief fired after misconduct investigation

Recording Academy chief executive forced out after two independent investigations into allegations against her

Deborah Dugan, who had been suspended from her position as president and chief executive of the Recording Academy, has now seen her contract officially terminated.

The Academy, which organises the Grammy awards, had originally placed her on administrative leave in January after allegations of misconduct from a female colleague who claims that Dugan verbally abused her. A letter sent this week to members explains that the results of two “exhaustive” independent investigations have led the board to fire her.

“These investigations were carried out by experienced individuals with no prior relationship to the Academy, interviewed a combined total of 37 witnesses, and reviewed numerous relevant documents and emails,” the letter reads.

When Dugan was suspended, she countered with a 44-page legal complaint alleging sexual harassment and voting corruption within the academy, detailing “egregious conflicts of interest” and a “boys’ club” mentality. She also claimed that her predecessor Neil Portnow raped an unnamed female recording artist, an allegation he called “ludicrous and untrue” in response.

“I actually wanted to make change from within,” Dugan said in an interview in January. “I believe in what the Recording Academy should stand for – for artists – and I was trying at each step to take a deep breath and say, ‘OK, I can make a difference. I can fix this. I can work with this team.’”

She has alleged that the Academy’s lawyer Joel Katz propositioned her, something he denies.

This week’s letter refers to Dugan’s allegations as an “unwarranted and damaging media campaign” and that her “consistent management deficiencies and failures” also led them to decide to fire her.

“Not removing Ms Dugan from the organization at this time would have caused us to compromise our values,” “We could not reward her with a lucrative settlement and thereby set a precedent that behavior like hers has no consequence.”

In a statement, Dugan’s lawyers Douglas Wigdor and Michael Willemin call the “despicable” decision to terminate her proof that the Academy will “stop at nothing to protect and maintain a culture of misogyny, discrimination, sexual harassment, corruption and conflicts of interest”.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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