The top editor for the National Enquirer, US Weekly, and other major gossip publications is under fire after former employees alleged sexual misconduct.
Dylan Howard, currently the Chief Content Officer of American Media Inc., openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, talked about female employees’ sex lives, and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The Associated Press.
The behavior by Howard occurred while he was running the company’s Los Angeles office, according to men and women who worked there. Employees noted that his “self-proclaimed nickname was ‘Dildo’.”
His actions led to an internal inquiry in 2012 by an outside consultant. Former employees said he stopped working out of the L.A. office after the inquiry, and quit shortly after the report was completed and filed. But, that didn’t stop the company from re-hiring him again only one year later -- with a promotion in the company’s main New York office.
At the time, employees were not sure if Howard had received a simple slap on the wrist over the accusations, or was just able to continue his career as if nothing happened.
The AP is not currently aware of any sexual harassment allegations involving Howard since he was rehired by the New York office, but did get in touch with twelve former employees that had knowledge about the investigations into Howard’s previous behavior.
The outside investigator hired to examine complaints about Howard’s behavior also confirmed to AP that he indeed did complete the report.
Howard has characterized the ex-employees’ claims as “baseless.”
A lawyer for American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer, RadarOnline, Star and other gossip publications, confirmed Tuesday that an outside investigator was hired to investigate two employees’ claims about Howard’s behavior.
The lawyer, Cam Stracher, said the investigation did not show serious wrongdoings by Howard. Stracher confirmed that one employee had complained that Howard said he wanted to create a Facebook account for her vagina, but Stracher stated Howard said that never happened.
“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 said, “but none of it rose to the level of harassment that would require termination.”
TIME Magazine reports that American Media regularly asks leaving employees to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from “disclosing confidential information or disparaging company executives.”
Several of the former employees who came out about Howard’s behavior said they decided to do so after the New Yorker and other news organizations published emails in recent weeks. As it turned out, Howard had worked with movie producer Harvey Weinstein to undermine allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein.