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Grammy Chief Breaks Silence on Sex-Abuse Claim

Denying allegations that he sexually assaulted or physically abused a female employee, Grammy chief Michael Greene said on Friday he is forgoing the chance to clear his name in court in order to spare sponsors of the prestigious music awards a “crippling” legal battle.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents the woman, Jill Geimer, called his statement “self-serving and pathetic.”

The Los Angeles Times has reported Geimer would be paid $650,000.

Breaking his silence on the scandal, Greene, the president and chief executive of the National Academy for the Recording Arts and Sciences, said the non-profit organization’s primary focus should be preparing for the Grammy telecast in February.

The “grief and distraction of a long, drawn-out legal action… would end up crippling the productivity and morale of the organization,” Greene said in a statement issued by the academy. “As a result, our leadership has convinced me that it is in everyone’s best interest for me to give up my right to litigate for defamation and to forgo my ability to vindicate myself, as well as the organization, through due process.”

Allred called Greene’s statement a “self-serving and… pathetic attempt to try to salvage his reputation.” She added that her client was “happy with the action that the board has taken in reference to her.” She did not elaborate.

Separately, academy board chairman Garth Fundis confirmed in a written statement that the trustees had offered a settlement to Geimer to resolve the matter out of court but did not disclose the size of the settlement or any of its terms. Fundis said last week an internal review of Geimer’s allegations found “no merit” to her claims.

Fundis added Friday that a new “independent investigation” would examine reports of “past employee sexual harassment claims” against Greene, which he also has denied.

Allred said Geimer, who was hired by the Santa Monica, California-based NARAS in August 2000 and remains employed there but on leave, “looks forward to cooperating in that investigation.”

Fundis also rejected as “totally inaccurate” a Los Angeles Times report that the proposed settlement had “sparked a boardroom revolt” by the trustees. The Times said nearly a dozen of the 41 board members had privately called for Greene’s dismissal.

The controversy came to light last Wednesday in a Los Angeles Times article that described claims of sexual and physical abuse made against Greene by Geimer. She reportedly had threatened to sue over his alleged misconduct but had not done so while negotiations continued over a possible settlement.

Greene is widely credited with raising the profile of the Grammys over the past 10 years, building the 44-year-old awards into a major television event viewed by some 1.5 billion people around the globe. In October, he announced that CBS, a unit of Viacom Inc., had extended its contract to broadcast the gala through the year 2006.

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