Neil Portnow, the former chief executive of the Grammy Awards, was sued for alleged sexual battery on Wednesday, and the suit accuses him of drugging and raping a female instrumentalist in 2018, according to the New York Times.
The lawsuit — which does not name the accuser but says she’s an instrumentalist not from the United States and has performed at Carnegie Hall — alleges the plaintiff met Portnow at a hotel where he gave her wine, she lost consciousness and she awoke to him sexually assaulting her, the Times reported.
The woman had reached out to the Recording Academy telling them about the incident and had tried to file a police report, according to the Times, before her accusation became public in 2020 when Deborah Dugan, then-chief of the Grammys, filed a complaint saying she was removed in part for uncovering sexual harassment within the organization.
In a statement to the Times, a spokesperson for Portnow — who left the role in 2019 — said the accusations are false and the Recording Academy said it “continue(s) to believe the claims to be without merit” and will defend the Academy.
The lawsuit comes shortly after the Academy, which is the organization behind the Grammys, went through a period of transition in which it dealt with claims of various abuses and questions about its makeup of leadership. Portnow had held the chief executive job for 17 years before he resigned after controversially saying that women artists and executives should “step up” to advance their careers and get recognition.