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Ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan's Sexual Harassment Claims Led To Investigation

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By Adreon Patterson

Ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan's allegation against the organization has led to an independent investigation.

The investigation came off the heels of the ousting of Dugan after allegations were made against her by a former assistant. Those allegations along with other accounts of Dugan's behavior led to Dugan being fired. Dugan has only been on the job for five months after replacing the previous CEO Neil Portnow.

With everything coming to light, now the Recording Academy will look into Dugan's claims.

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Rolling Stone was able to obtain a memo sent by interim CEO and board chair Harvey Mason Jr.

He mentioned in the statement that the harassment allegations were being “independently investigated by a law firm with no previous ties to the Academy" while addressing many of the other allegations Dugan brought against the organization in her extensive complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, shortly after being fired in January.

The complaint detailed Academy general counsel Joel Katz’s alleged sexual harassment and former Grammy CEO Neil Portnow’s alleged rape of a foreign recording artist while mentioning secret committees fixing the voting process.

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Mason began the memo by addressing Dugan's claims and allegations against the Recording Academy and its former administration.

“[Dugan’s] outrageous assertion that the Grammys are ‘rigged’ is utterly false,” Mason stated in the “Note to Elected Leaders.” “We do realize that the nomination and voting process needs to be better understood so we have taken steps to make it more public and to educate people about how it works to preserve fairness and protect Nominations Review Committee members from lobbying and pressure.”

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He continued in the memo, “Our legal fees are well in line with industry standards."

He added, “While hiring a full-time in-house counsel would not eliminate the need for the use of expert law firms and could actually increase overall legal costs, the Academy was and remains willing to consider doing so if it will result in savings to the Academy.”

With Katz out as the organization's counsel, there seems to be a mix of urgency and patience as the investigation gets under way.

Giphy | Recording Academy / GRAMMYs

Mason spoke on the ongoing arbitration process between Dugan and the Academy over her exit from the organization.

Previously, Dugan had wanted the arbitration to be lifted with the Academy responding to lift the confidentiality clause instead. Neither side reached an agreement as the case moved forward.

“The Academy had expressed a number of concerns to Ms. Dugan about her performance and had worked with Ms. Dugan to try to correct them,” Mason stated in the memo. “Those specific concerns are being addressed in a confidential forum, to which she is entitled under Ms. Dugan’s employment contract, though in the interests of transparency we have offered to waive the confidentiality of any arbitration proceeding in this matter."

He stated in the memo, "So, while I would like to tell you more about that, I cannot at this time.”

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Mason went on to address the ongoing outcry from artists, musicians and the media alike for the Academy to address the issue of diversity and inclusion.

“It is difficult to read unfair criticism of the Academy in the media, but our reticence to respond should not be misinterpreted,” Mason concluded. “We are confident that when we are able to share all the facts, our members, the industry, and the public will understand that all our actions have been appropriate and in the interest of making progress towards our shared goals of diversity, inclusion, and our mission to recognize musical excellence, advocate for the well-being of music makers, and ensure that music remains an indelible part of our culture.”

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