Former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow Accused by Instrumentalist of 2018 Rape in Lawsuit

The executive is also known for producing music for “A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child”

Neil Portnow (Photo credit: Getty Images)
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Former chairman and CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, has been accused of raping a female instrumentalist in 2018, according to a lawsuit filed against the executive on Wednesday, per reports.

In the document, the accuser states that the two met in January 2018, and the assault took place in a hotel they met at in June 2018, mentioning that Portnow gave her wine and she eventually fell into unconsciousness after feeling “woozy.” She goes on to say that she woke up to Portnow raping her. She added that she attempted to leave, but Portnow persisted that she stay, noting that cabs weren’t available.

The accuser’s name is not listed in the lawsuit, however the document does mention the accuser was not born in United States, but has performed in the country, specifically at Carnegie Hall. Per reports, the accuser also states the Recording Academy “aided and abetted Portnow’s conduct to protect their reputations and silence Plaintiff’s and other women in the music industry who have stood up and spoken up.”

Prior to going public with the accusation, the woman shared that she contacted the Recording Academy to inform them of the assault and tried to file a police report. The suit on Wednesday was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Portnow was working at the Recording Academy at the time of the alleged incident. He served in his executive position for 17 years before he stepped down following comments he made claiming female artists and executives should “step up” to move up in their careers.

In a statement to TheWrap, a spokesperson for Portnow called the accusations “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. A series of erratic, bizarre text messages and e-mails to both Mr. Portnow and the Recording Academy from the Plaintiff had already persuaded numerous previous Plaintiff’s lawyers who resigned, as well as a police agency, that her claims were baseless. The latest incarnation offers a ‘new and improved’ story, padding it with even more outrageous and untrue allegations.”

The statement continued: “More than 5 years later, Mr. Portnow remains consistent in his refusal to assist the Plaintiff in her absurd demands that he help her in procuring a United States permanent resident visa, marry her, make children with her, support her musical career, or pay her millions of dollars so that she would not bring her frivolous lawsuit. When the first attempt was made to extract money and other benefits as listed above, 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. The Academy’s Executive Committee and Board of Trustees were made aware of the results of the investigation and report; subsequently, Mr. Portnow served at the helm of the Recording Academy for the balance of the term of his contract. Throughout these processes, Mr. Portnow voluntarily and fully cooperated with and supported the investigation of these false allegations. Accordingly, Mr. Portnow will defend the case with vigor and will prevail.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement to TheWrap, that it will “continue to believe the claims to be without merit and intend to vigorously defend the Academy in this lawsuit.” 

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