Neil Portnow Accuser Asks Court to Dismiss Her Sexual Assault Lawsuit


A woman who filed a lawsuit accusing Neil Portnow, the former head of the Grammy Awards, of drugging and raping her in a New York hotel room has asked a federal judge for her case to be dismissed.

The request by the woman, who filed her suit anonymously in November, was addressed to Judge Analisa Torres of Federal District Court in Manhattan over the weekend via email, and it was posted on Monday to the court’s website. Days before, her lawyers had opposed a statement by Mr. Portnow’s lawyers to require the woman to use her real name in the case.

In her letter, the woman made clear that she was concerned about her identity being revealed. She also noted a dispute with her lawyers. Despite their opposition to Mr. Portnow’s request, she wrote that her lawyers’ filing “did not accurately reflect my position.”

Also on Monday, her lawyer, Jeffrey R. Anderson, filed a motion to withdraw as her counsel. Mr. Anderson said she had submitted the letter without his knowledge, and that “the attorney-client relationship has deteriorated beyond repair.” Reached by phone on Tuesday, Mr. Anderson declined to comment.

The woman’s lawsuit, originally filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, arrived as a legal window in New York was drawing to a close that had allowed people to file civil suits alleging sexual assault even if the statute of limitations for their cases had expired. The case was removed to federal court in January.

The woman, who was identified in her suit only as a musician from outside the United States, said she met Mr. Portnow, then the chief executive of the Recording Academy, at a Grammy event in New York in early 2018. According to her complaint, that June he invited her to a Manhattan hotel room where he was staying. He gave her wine and she lost consciousness, according to the suit, and the woman said that she awoke to find him “forcibly” penetrating her.

Mr. Portnow declined to comment on Tuesday. But when the woman filed her suit in November, he denied the accusations strongly, saying they were “the product of the plaintiff’s imagination.”

In an answer to her complaint last month, Mr. Portnow acknowledged that he met her at his hotel room and offered her wine, but said that “at all times his interactions with Plaintiff were consensual.”

Lawyers for Mr. Portnow also said that the woman had sent him “a trove of emails and texts” after their encounter, proposing marriage and asking his help in “writing a recommendation letter for her immigration application.”

Federal courts allow plaintiffs to file cases anonymously in special circumstances, including if revealing their identity would expose them to a risk of physical or mental harm. In court papers, Mr. Portnow’s lawyers argued that the woman’s reasons for proceeding anonymously, including that she “seeks to shield their identity from the stigma associated with sexual assault,” do not satisfy these requirements.

In response, the woman’s lawyers said that anonymity “has become an accepted practice for sexual assault victims in New York state court,” and argued that she should not be identified in the federal case. But the woman’s letter included what she said were quotations from emails from her lawyers, in which they told her they believed that Mr. Portnow “will prevail” on a motion to compel her to use her real name, and added that “your name will be made public which will cause harm to you and your reputation.”

Mr. Portnow, 75, became chief executive of the Recording Academy in 2002. In 2018, at the height of the #MeToo movement, he came under harsh criticism for saying that women in music should “step up” to get greater recognition in the industry, and he resigned from the organization the following year.

His successor, Deborah Dugan, was fired in early 2020, and in a legal compliant accused the academy of a range of abuses, including voting irregularities, rampant conflicts of interest and covering up that Mr. Portnow had been accused of rape by the woman who later filed her suit.



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