Grammy Awards chief Deborah Dugan placed on leave 10 days before ceremony

She was placed on administrative leave after "a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member" of the organization, the academy said.

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By Diana Dasrath and Daniel Arkin

LOS ANGELES — The head of the organization behind the Grammy Awards was placed on leave Thursday, 10 days before the 62nd edition of the ceremony.

Deborah Dugan, who took the helm of the Recording Academy in August, was placed on administrative leave after "a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member" of the organization, the academy said in a statement.

The academy's board of trustees has retained two independent third-party investigators to look into the allegations, according to the statement.

"The Board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy Membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators," the academy said.

The academy did not provide specifics on the allegation against Dugan, but a person with direct knowledge of the events told NBC News that a complaint was filed by an assistant to her predecessor, Neil Portnow. The assistant accused Dugan of a bullying management style.

In a statement, Dugan's attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, suggested that key details had yet to come to light: "What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told."

"When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you 'step up' at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit," Freedman added.

Dugan was put on leave less than three weeks after she sent a memo to the academy’s human resources department spelling out issues inside the academy, including alleged voting irregularities, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest, according to a source close to the matter.

NBC News has not confirmed that the academy's decision was linked to the memo and has reached out to them for more information.

The news was first reported late Thursday by The Los Angeles Times.

The academy has been plagued by controversy in recent years. Portnow drew criticism for producing a Grammy ceremony in 2018 that many critics said had marginalized female artists and provoked a backlash after telling a reporter that year that women need to "step up" in order to receive equal treatment.

Portnow later apologized for that comment, insisting it had been taken out of context.

Dugan, the first woman to sit atop the Recording Academy, previously led (RED), a prominent charity co-founded by U2 frontman Bono in 2006 that raises funds to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa.

Diana Dasrath reported from Los Angeles and Daniel Arkin reported from New York.