Ex-Grammys CEO is sued for allegedly sexually assaulting a musician who came to interview him in a hotel room


A woman filed a lawsuit Wednesday against former Grammy Awards CEO Neil Portnow, accusing him of a 2018 sexual assault, and against the Recording Academy for negligence.

The woman, who was not named, filed the lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan under the Adult Survivors Act. The measure, passed last year, created a temporary window for those who allege sexual assault to file past the state’s usual deadlines.

In the lawsuit, the woman, described as an internationally known musician who once played at Carnegie Hall, said she met Portnow in early 2018 and had set up a meeting to interview him at his hotel in New York City later that year. She said he gave her something to drink at the meeting that made her intermittently lose consciousness and that he then proceeded to assault her.

A spokesperson for Portnow, who stepped down as the CEO in 2019, said in an email that the accusations were “completely false” 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.”

The woman said in the lawsuit that she had reached out to the Academy in late 2018 about Portnow. In a statement, the Academy said, “We continue to believe the claims to be without merit and intend to vigorously defend the Academy in this lawsuit.”

Word of the allegations first came to light in 2020, after Portnow had stepped down. His successor, Deborah Dugan, was ousted after mere months and spoke of the accusation against him in filing a complaint against the Academy.

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