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Ousted Grammy CEO Deborah Dugan Says General Counsel Propositioned Her in ‘Power-Setting Move’ (Video)

In ‘GMA’ interview, she also declines to name Song of the Year nominee she says sat on nominating committee for the category

Last Updated: January 23, 2020 @ 2:54 PM

Ousted National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences CEO Deborah Dugan said Thursday the Grammy organization’s general counsel Joel Katz propositioned her in a “power-setting move” just after she accepted the gig last spring.

In a “Good Morning America” interview, she told anchor George Stephanopolous that Katz propositioned her — an accusation he has denied. “Starting with calling me babe and saying how attractive I was and how pretty was, the evening went on to a kiss — trying to kiss me. All the way through I felt like I was being tested in how much I would acquiesce,” she said. “I realized that was a power-setting move on the onset just as I was coming in.”

She also renewed her criticism of the integrity of the Grammy Awards themselves, particularly a nominations process that she found to be “tainted.” “The system should be transparent and there are incidents of conflict-of-interest that taint the results,” she said, noting that Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande this year missed out on a Song of the Year nomination because another artist — who did get a nomination — sat on the committee’s nominating category and is represented by a board member of the Recording Academy.

But she declined to name the artist on Thursday. “For the artist’s privacy and for the integrity of all those artists who are going to perform and get nominations this year, I don’t want to say, but it’s not even just that one room,” she said, noting she has “evidence” of other voting irregularities in the Grammy nominations process.

“It’s very serious and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could make a difference,” said Dugan, who told the anchor she’s filed a claim with her evidence.

Dugan, who was ousted after less than a year, sent a detailed email to human resources outlining many instances of what she called corruption and misconduct at the organization that hands out the Grammy Awards — refuting a claim by the Recording Academy that she only complained after she was ousted from the organization.

The email — dated December 22, 2019 — touched off a series of events that led to Dugan’s departure from the organization and served as the basis for an EEOC discrimination complaint she filed on Tuesday.

The Recording Academy has disputed Dugan’s account though it has not directly addressed her accusations about irregularities and conflicts of interest in the Grammy voting process.

Watch Dugan’s full interview above.