Recording Academy Investigating Industry Attorney Joel Katz

Internal Recording Academy memos push back against Deborah Dugan’s allegations.

Per a pair of internally circulated Recording Academy memos that were leaked by Variety, the organization’s higher-ups are taking a number of steps to address and investigate the allegations made by ousted CEO Deborah Dugan. 

First and foremost, the memos (which were written by Board of Trustees head Harvey Mason Jr.) indicated that the Recording Academy has consulted an unaffiliated third-party law firm to conduct an investigation of lawyer Joel Katz, who Dugan accused of ual harassment. Specifically, Dugan blasted Katz for attempting to kiss her at a dinner party. (Katz has disputed the allegations.) 

The law firm’s name and the investigation’s progress were not disclosed. 

Next, the memos addressed the fact that the Recording Academy exclusively hires external lawyers and does not have an in-house legal department. Dugan insinuated that this arrangement was indicative of corruption, but the cited text claimed that the Recording Academy uses a variety of legal services to meet its array of professional needs and to save money.  

The memos went on to state that specifics disproving Dugan’s “completely untrue” allegations would be revealed in due time, and that it would be unwise to publish this information presently, given Dugan’s ongoing lawsuit.

It was claimed that Dugan’s on-the-job performance issues and being named in a formal misconduct complaint (by assistant Claudine Little) were the chief reasons for her dismissal. 

Lastly, the fairness of the Grammy nomination process was defended, as was the fashion in which Board members cast their votes. A need for increased public awareness and understanding of the voting process was acknowledged, but the core integrity of the system was not questioned. Citing sources on the Board and those with direct knowledge of the matter, Variety indicated that instances of self-serving votes are both rare and debatable.  

Notably, no mention was made of Dugan’s allegation that former Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow committed rape. Portnow has vehemently denied the accusation, going as far as saying that a separate third-party investigation found him guilty of no wrongdoing. Police have not investigated the alleged incident, and no police report was filed. 

At the time of this piece’s writing, Deborah Dugan hadn’t responded publicly to the Variety report. To be sure, she has largely steered clear of the public eye since making the talk show rounds ahead of the 62nd Grammys. Additionally, each of her social media profiles has been inactive since January 10th.