NEW YORK — The top editor for the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and other major gossip publications openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees’ sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The Associated Press.
The behavior by Dylan Howard, currently the chief content officer of American Media Inc., occurred while he was running the company’s Los Angeles office, according to men and women who worked there. Howard’s self-proclaimed nickname was “Dildo,” a phallus-shaped sex toy, the former employees said. His conduct led to an internal inquiry in 2012 by an outside consultant and former employees said he stopped working out of the L.A. office after the inquiry.
Howard quit soon after the report was completed. The company rehired him one year later with a promotion that landed him in the company’s main office in New York. It was not clear whether Howard faced any discipline over the accusations. The AP is not aware of any sexual harassment allegations involving Howard since he was rehired.
The AP spoke with 12 former employees who knew about the investigation into Howard’s behavior, though not all were aware of every detail. The outside investigator hired to examine complaints about Howard’s behavior also confirmed to the AP he completed a report.
In a brief phone interview with the AP, Howard characterized the ex-employees’ claims as “baseless.”
A lawyer for American Media confirmed Tuesday an outside investigator was hired to look into two employees’ claims about Howard’s behavior. He said the investigation did not show serious wrongdoing.
“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,” Cam Stracher said, “but none of it rose to the level of harassment that would require termination.”
Most of the former employees spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements, sometimes as part of severance packages.
Two former employees, one a senior manager and another a reporter in the L.A. office, agreed to be publicly identified to discuss Howard’s behavior.
“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.