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Recording academy to settle sex abuse claim

The board of the academy that presents the Grammys, the music industry’s highest honors, has approved a $650,000 payment to settle claims that its chief executive sexually assaulted and physically abused a female employee, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and representatives of academy president and chief executive, Michael Greene, had no comment on the report, which cited Grammy sources.

“We don’t have a statement. Today, we’re focusing on the Latin Grammys,” NARAS spokesman Ron Roecker said, referring to the planned announcement Tuesday of the winners of the organization’s second annual Latin Grammy Awards.

Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing the employee, Jill Geimer, declined to comment on the report. “We can’t comment on whether there’s been any offers made or offers accepted, or if there was, in what amount,” she said.

Garth Fundis, chairman of the NARAS board of trustees, issued a statement last week defending Greene, saying that after an executive committee review of the board’s own investigation of the allegations, “We believe there is no merit to the claims.”

But the Times, citing high-ranking Grammy sources, said the settlement has turned many trustees against Greene, with more than a dozen of the 41 board members privately calling for his dismissal.

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

Allred confirmed last week that she was representing Geimer in a matter related to the academy but declined further comment on the allegations. Allred said Geimer was still employed by NARAS, which hired her in August 2000, but that she was on leave.

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. Earlier this month, 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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