John Amato, the CEO of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard media group who stepped down earlier this week amid allegations of influencing newsroom procedures, has been accused of sexual harassment and other improper behavior, according to a report in The Daily Beast, which cites “three sources with direct knowledge of the outcome of the internal investigation.”
The probe began with allegations of sexual harassment and expanded over the past few weeks to include an audit of parts of the company’s 2016 acquisition of SpinMedia for examinations of financial wrongdoing, the report says, adding that the investigation is also examining whether the company properly addressed staffers’ complaints of inappropriate behavior by senior company officials. It cites “nearly a dozen current and former employees as well as a person familiar with the company’s business who all spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.” Reps for the organization’s parent company, Valence Media, and Amato did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
The Daily Beast reported in May that Amato had suppressed a series of articles in Billboard and Spin about former Republic Records president Charlie Walk’s alleged inappropriate behavior toward younger women. This led to a separate investigation about Amato’s conduct and “the company culture he oversaw.” In addition to the financial aspect of the probe, the report says investigators have heard complaints from women who alleged that Amato had behaved inappropriately with young female staffers at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and during the Billboard Music Awards three years later, along with accusations of sexually explicit comments made in front of employees.
The report also cites sources as saying the outside investigator has also heard from staff that the company did not take commensurate action over complaints against Amato’s friends and company EVP Julian Holguin and CFO Moksha Fitzgibbons, and that in two cases, employees who filed complaints with human resources were — within weeks — fired or had their jobs threatened for unrelated perceived offenses.