Dylan Howard, the chief content officer of National Enquirer, RadarOnline, and US Weekly publisher American Media Inc., has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by 12 former employees at the company. They told the Associated Press that Howard “openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees’ sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material” to staff while running the company’s Los Angeles office several years ago.
Howard—who liked to be called “Dildo,” according to former employees—also allegedly talked about his sex life, described his sex partners’ bodies, and harassed women in the office. From the AP:
“The behavior that Dylan displayed and the way he was and the way the company dealt with it — I just think that it has to be made public because it’s completely unacceptable,” said Maxine “Max” Page, a former senior editor at RadarOnline. She complained to the human resources department about Howard’s behavior on behalf of two female reporters.
Howard made inappropriate comments to and about one of those women, Page and six other ex-employees said. Howard told employees in the newsroom he wanted to create a Facebook account on behalf of the woman’s vagina, commented on her sex life and forced her and other female employees to either watch or listen to graphic recordings of sex involving celebrities despite there being no professional rationale for doing so, they said.
A former senior editor recalled Howard wrongly claimed during a newsroom meeting that the woman had had sex with a journalism source and praised her for it, saying she needed to “do what you need” to get a story.
The alleged misconduct culminated in an investigation into Howard’s behavior in 2012. According to two former employees, Howard was subsequently banned from the office and worked from home. He left the company soon after, but was rehired the following year with a promotion to the New York office. “It was not clear whether Howard faced any discipline over the accusations,” the AP reported.
Several of the former employees decided to come forward about Howard’s alleged misconduct after the New Yorker and other outlets published emails revealing Howard had attempted to dig up sensitive information about one of Weinstein’s alleged rape victims and share that information with Weinstein. Most spoke under anonymity due to signing non-disclosure agreements with AMI.
The AP was unable to obtain a copy of the 25-to 35-page report from the 2012 investigation, and its author, Philip Deming, said he couldn’t offer any details without approval from AMI’s lawyer, Cam Stracher. “I did have recommendations and I don’t know what happened after those recommendations were made,” he said.
Stracher, who said that no one in the investigation complained about the pornography or Howard’s alleged response to the reporter, dismissed the allegations. “It was determined that there was some what you would call as horsing around outside the office, going to bars and things that are not uncommon in the media business,” Stracher told the AP, “but none of it rose to the level of harassment that would require termination.”
“The investigation described an environment where employees mixed socially outside the office — sometimes at bars — but found no direct support for the allegations of harassment made by the two complainants,” said AMI spokesman Jon Hammond in an email.
Howard, who was promoted to Chief Content Officer in October, told the AP the claims are “baseless.”