Top gossip editor accused of sexual misconduct

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, but 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. 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 AP that 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 that an outside investigator was hired to look into two employees’ claims about Howard’s behavior.

The lawyer, Cam Stracher, said the investigation did not show serious wrongdoing. Stracher confirmed that one employee had complained that Howard said he wanted to create a Facebook account for her vagina, but Stracher said 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.”

American Media publishes the National Enquirer, RadarOnline, Star and other gossip publications and websites. In March the company purchased the glossy Us Weekly magazine for a reported $100 million, significantly boosting its readership among women.

In his job, Howard oversees those newsrooms.

AMI spokesman Jon Hammond described…

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