Rape Lawsuit Against Academy Ex-Chief Neil Portnow Is Dismissed After Plaintiff Cites Safety Concerns – Update

UPDATED, 12:33 PM: A federal judge in Manhattan has thrown out a sexual assault lawsuit filed last year against Former Recording Academy President Neil Portnow after the accuser cited safety concerns over her name being revealed in court.

The suit filed in early November alleged that Portnow drugged and raped the plaintiff in a New York City hotel room in 2018, when he was still chief of the Academy. Judge Analisa Torres of Federal District Court dismissed the suit without prejudice, which means that it could be refiled later.

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“JAA Doe’s request to dismiss her claims against me follows the decision of the fifth set of attorneys to withdraw from representing her,” Portnow said in a statement after the dismissal. “The latest attorney was the only one to actually file a lawsuit, as all of the prior ones chose not to continue once my counsel highlighted written communications from JAA Doe completely undermining her untrue claims. These latest developments confirm what I have said over the past five years since the inception of these outrageous and damaging allegations: the claims against me were false and without merit.”

Read details of the case below.

PREVIOUSLY, November 8: Former Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow is being sued by a musician who claims he raped her five years ago. A civil complaint filed today In Manhattan says Portnow drugged and sexually assaulted the woman in a New York City hotel room in summer 2018 — an allegation that first came to light more than three years ago.

The suit filed in New York State Supreme Court describes the plaintiff as a foreign professional instrumentalist — who is not identified in the court filing — and also alleges that the organization behind the Grammy Awards worked to “silence” her.

The lawsuit comes two days before nominations for the 66th annual Grammy Awards will be revealed.

Portnow exited the Recording Academy in 2019, more than a year after he announced that he would leave his president/CEO post in the wake of a #GrammySoMale backlash over the previous year’s male-dominated winners list.

The 17-year Academy veteran was replaced by Deborah Dugan, the first woman to lead the Academy. But she was removed only months later, early March 2020, not long after being placed on administrative leave.

The allegations first went public days before the 2020 Grammy ceremony, when Dugan filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (read it here) that Portnow had raped a female recording artist. At the time, he called her allegations “ludicrous and untrue.”

Dugan later amended her EEOC filing include a retaliation charge, but the parties settled out of court in June 2021.

The new lawsuit marks the first time Portnow’s accuser has spoken up about the alleged rape. The plaintiff claims that she met Portnow at an Academy event in early 2018 and she later asked to interview him for a publication she was launching. According to the filing, they went to his hotel room, where she drank some wine and “began to feel woozy,” eventually losing control of her body and falling unconscious.

The suit alleges that the woman awoke multiple times during the night to find Portnow sexually assaulting her. It also says the accuser filed a police report but that the district attorney declined to press charges.

The New York Times first reported on the lawsuit.

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