The chief content officer of American Media Inc. (AMI)—which publishes the National Enquirer, Us Weekly, and other celebrity tabloids—has been accused of sexually harassing company employees, the Associated Press reports.
Dylan Howard formerly ran AMI's Los Angeles office, where—according to 12 former employees—his alleged sexual misconduct included encouraging female reporters to sleep with sources, offering to make a Facebook page for an employee's vagina, and forcing multiple employees to watch porn unrelated to any ongoing stories. Howard allegedly talked about his female colleagues' sex lives in the office and went into detail about his own. According to the AP, he nicknamed himself "Dildo" and invited those in his office to a birthday party he called "Dildo's Dirty 30."
His behavior ultimately led to a handful of formal complaints, and AMI called in an outside investigator to look into the chief content officer, which resulted in a lengthy internal report. Howard quit just after it was released in 2012, but was re-hired at AMI a year later.
Though most former employees who spoke to the AP didn't reveal their names, two women—former reporter Liz Crokin and former RadarOnline editor Maxine Page—came forward publicly. Crokin said Howard personally harassed her, once asking if she was "going to be walking the streets tonight” when she wore heels to work. She later spoke with the outside investigator looking into accusations against Howard—and shortly thereafter, she said, she was laid off.
In early November, the New Yorker reported Howard once worked with Harvey Weinstein to dredge up damaging information about Rose McGowan, who has accused the disgraced Hollywood producer of rape. According to the magazine, Howard obtained a potentially damaging recording of a conversation about McGowan, promising to pass it to Weinstein. Howard told the New Yorker Weinstein never received the audio file, and that no one published a story about the information his reporter tracked down.
In terms of his behavior at work, Howard told the AP the allegations against him were "baseless." Cam Stracher, an AMI lawyer, confirmed that Howard was investigated—leading to a report on his behavior—but said nothing he did qualified as serious sexual misconduct.
"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."
Page, who formally complained about Howard's behavior on behalf of two women at AMI, told AP she didn't think the allegations against him were ever sufficiently investigated.
"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," she said.
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