Sexual Assault Suit Against Neil Portnow, Ex-Grammys Chief, Is Dismissed


A federal judge has dismissed a sexual assault lawsuit against the former head of the Grammy Awards, after the plaintiff fell out with her lawyers and said in court papers that she feared for her safety and well-being if her real name were revealed during the case.

The suit was dismissed on Friday “without prejudice” by Judge Analisa Torres of Federal District Court in Manhattan, meaning it could be refiled again in the future.

The plaintiff filed her suit anonymously in New York State Supreme Court in November, saying that Neil Portnow, the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, had drugged and raped her in a New York hotel room in 2018. Mr. Portnow, who led the Grammy organization from 2002 to 2019, denied the accusation, and in court papers his lawyers have said his encounter with the woman was consensual.

The case was removed to federal court in January, and in April, Mr. Portnow’s lawyers said they would file a motion to compel the woman — who is described in court papers only as a musician from outside the United States — to use her real name.

In response, the woman filed an unusual direct appeal to the judge, asking to have her case dismissed, and saying that she feared “potential grave harm” if her name became known. Her lawyers then asked permission to withdraw as her counsel, saying that “the attorney-client relationship has deteriorated beyond repair.”

In her letter to the judge, the woman said that her lead attorney, Jeffrey R. Anderson, had actually resigned days earlier and told her in a letter: “Now that the defendants brought your case into the federal court where your anonymity and your name can no longer be protected, you are faced and we are faced with the possibility of grave further harm.”

Lawyers for Mr. Portnow wrote to the judge saying that any dismissal of the case should be “with prejudice,” which would prevent her from bringing it again.

The woman, they wrote, had engaged in “vexatious and harassing behavior that has caused substantial harm” to Mr. Portnow. Their response included what they said were excerpts from text messages and emails; they said the woman had proposed marriage to Mr. Portnow and asked him to write a letter of recommendation for an immigration application.

In rejecting Mr. Portnow’s request, Judge Torres said that Mr. Portnow would not suffer “plain legal prejudice” if another case were brought. The judge also noted the text messages and emails he cited, saying: “Portnow’s one-sided characterization of the events at issue precedes discovery, and Portnow has not offered evidence that the litigation itself was filed with an ‘ill motive.’”



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