On Friday SPIN magazine’s owner Next Management Partners announced that founder Bob Guccione, Jr. would be returning to the embattled publication, describing him as a “cultural disruptor” in a press release. Perhaps the disruption they’re referring to is the fact that Guccione was sued in 1996 for sexual harassment by a former staff writer?
In 1996 research editor and writer Staci Bonner sued the magazine and Guccione, accusing him of sexual harassment and sexual favoritism as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Los Angeles Times reported that during the trial witnesses described SPIN as a place where women were subjected to unwanted touching and sexist comments, with Bonner saying she received unwanted back rubs from a senior editor and a “crude” proposition from another employee. One witness testified that Guccione asked a woman employee to edit a story naked in bed.
A jury rejected the claims of emotional distress and intentional gender discrimination but ultimately ruled that Bonner had been discriminated against through “hostile environment sexual harassment” and that she had been paid less than men in similar positions, the New York Times reported. She was awarded $90,000 in compensatory damages, $10,000 in back pay, and $750,000 in legal fees. “What happened there to me and other women is now finally a matter of public record,” Bonner told the Associated Press. “The evidence was strong that a clear signal of disinterest in a sexual relationship with Mr. Guccione or his senior male editors shut the door to opportunities in the editorial department,” said the U.S. district judge when awarding legal fees to Bonner.
According to the press release Guccione will be working closely with SPIN’s editorial and executive teams and the New York Post describes him as a “creative advisor.” SPIN was acquired by Next Management Partners in early 2020 after being a part of the Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group owned by Valence Media.