In June 2018, a woman filed a lawsuit against former Grammy chief Neil Portnow, claiming he had drugged and raped her in a hotel room in New York.
The woman, who is not identified in the case, is said to be a musician who used to perform at Carnegie Hall and was a former Recording Academy voting member—the nonprofit that runs the Grammy Awards.
She claims she met Portnow in January 2018 at an event for the 60th Grammy Awards, and in the case filed on Wednesday in Manhattan’s New York State Supreme Court, she asked him to be interviewed for her magazine in May while she was in the city.
The lawsuit claims that 75-year-old Portnow invited her to his hotel room for the interview, where he handed her a pair of toothbrushes and toothpaste, Grammy memorabilia, and a drink that rendered her “disoriented and incapable.” She said that Portnow had sexually assaulted her during her periods of unconsciousness.
The musician says that she emailed the Recording Academy in 2018 to report the assault, but the Academy never interviewed her about the allegations. The suit accuses the Recording Academy of negligent hiring, supervision and retention.
A spokesperson for Portnow claimed the allegations are “completely false.”
“The claims are the product of the Plaintiff’s imagination and undoubtedly motivated by Mr. Portnow’s refusal to comply with the Plaintiff’s outrageous demands for money and assistance in obtaining a residence visa for her,” said the spokesperson. “When the first attempt was made to extract money and other benefits … Mr. Portnow, who was at that time President/CEO of the Recording Academy, immediately enlisted the Academy’s HR Department to review the nonsensical text messages and emails that he made immediately available.
An outside independent investigation led by top-tier lawyers, reviewed all relevant texts, emails, interviewed witnesses, and found absolutely no proof to support any of the allegations.”
In a statement, the Recording Academy told The Times: “We continue to believe the claims to be without merit and intend to vigorously defend the Academy in this lawsuit.”