Just Days Before the Big Show, Grammys Chief Is Suspended

Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan placed on leave amid allegations of misconduct
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2020 7:20 AM CST
Just Days Before the Big Show, Grammys Chief Is Suspended
In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo, Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan participates in the Grammy Awards nominations news conference in New York.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

In 2018, former Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow caught flak after he said women in the music industry needed to "step up" if they wanted to win Grammys. A woman took over his post last August—but now she, too, is making headlines for the wrong reasons. In a Thursday statement, the academy said that Deborah Dugan, the organization's CEO and first female president, has been placed on leave less than two weeks before the Grammy Awards in connection with a misconduct allegation and other "concerns," the Los Angeles Times reports. Two independent third-party investigators have been retained to dig into the allegations. The statement describes the misconduct accusation as coming from "a senior female member of the Recording Academy team." NPR notes Dugan isn't specifically named in the statement as the accused.

Rolling Stone notes Dugan was brought in to replace Portnow, who served as the academy's leader for 17 years, as the organization was drawing criticism for not enough diversity on its roster of nominees and winners. In addition to recruiting Dugan for the top spot, the academy also set up an 18-person task force made up of mostly women to look into "conscious and unconscious" discrimination against people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and women. Yet it apparently wasn't smooth sailing after Dugan's appointment, with a source telling the Times Dugan "didn't fit in, from the get-go." No further details are available on the new allegation. In the meantime, the chairman of the academy's board, Harvey Mason Jr., will serve as interim president and CEO. The Grammy Awards take place Jan. 26. (Read more Grammys stories.)

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