An openly gay editor who was fired from Billboard after claims of sexual harrassment surfaced is now suing his former employer for workplace discrimination.
"Billboard will shortly be served with a lawsuit for, among other things, discrimination based on sexual orientation," said Patrick Crowley's legal team, The Harman Firm, LLP, in a statement to the The Advocate on Friday evening.
Crowley intends to sue both Billboard and the mostly queer men of color musicians who have come forward stating the editor sexually harrassed them for defamation, according to the statement.
The former head of Billboard Pride — Billboard's LGBTQ vertical — was terminated earlier this week after Nik Thakkar, a British musician who is also known as NEO 10Y, alleged Crowley requested nude photographs from him through direct messages on Instagram.
Thakkar claimed he was retaliated against professionally for not complying, citing his music's removal from a Billboard playlist in a BuzzFeed article.
Five other musicians — Kisos, Michael Medrano, Alextbh, Graveyardguy, and Mosayac — came forward with similar stories on Twitter after Thakkar's interview was published. These singers posted what appeared to be their own social-media and text-message exchanges with Crowley on Twitter in which nude photographs were also requested.
Crowley "denies any and all wrong doing" in response to these recent allegations of online sexual harassment through his legal team's statement. And the statement even portrays Crowley — who is characterized as "quite talented professionally" but "meek and quite shy socially" — as a victim of fame seekers.
His statement does not dispute the veracity of the online exchanges. But it did describe the screenshots posted to Twitter as "partial," "silly," and not related to actual sexual advances.
According to Crowley, the musicians who have come foward are leading "a defamatory campaign to destroy Mr. Crowley and his career" that they believe is for self-promotion.
The statement goes on to sex-shame the accusers due to their physical appearances, while also seemingly blaming the #MeToo movement for his firing. "When does #metoo go too far?" asked the statement. "These artists have attractive, edgy, extremely aggressive and overtly sexual presences in social media."
The representative even went as far as highlighting that one artist has a picture on social media where he is using poppers, a substance that is sometimes huffed during sex, as an example of why Crowley is not in the wrong for his advances.
Crowley's representatives say that the former editor intends to focus the suit against Billboard on workplace discrimination becaue his discipline contrasts other incidents where "senior male straight employees" were accused of sexual harassment by women.
"This is homophobia in the workplace in its highest and most sinister form," asserted the law firm's letter, which also accused Billboard of defaming Crowley "by making outrageous and unsupported statements in the press."
Billboard has not yet responded to The Advocate's request for comment on these allegations. However the magazine released a statement through their LGBTQ vertical on Thursday saying "that the kind of behavior described is not only deplorable but also completely contrary to our ethical and professional standards."
"Billboard expects all its journalists and employees to uphold the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior, and we will not tolerate anything less," they continued.
Crowley's accusers also took Billboard to task for fostering a harmful work environment in their own letter released Friday. The accusers claimed Billboard Pride framed Crowley's alleged behavior as "an LGBTQ+ issue, instead of seeing it as a cultural issue that happens to have LGBTQ+ victims."
Joint statement from some of @pcrowl’s targets. This is not an LGBTQ+ issue, this is a cultural issue that happens to have LGBTQ+ victims. Speak up @billboard @BillboardPride
cc: @NEO10Y @_alextbh @michaelxmedrano @itskisos @mosayac @dustinnickle pic.twitter.com/4JZTnumvc6
— MILLER PLACE | Nate (@heymillerplace) March 21, 2019
"NEO 10Y, Alextbh, Michael Medrano, Kisos, Graveyardguy, and many other private victims call for Billboard (not just Billboard Pride) to release a greater statement on how Billboard will remedy the culture that allowed Crowley’s behavior, and on how Billboard will support the artists who publicly came forward and are now facing threats from the former director," the statement read.
"The group also wishes to call attention to the distinct lack of support for their voices from artists of all sizes that Billboard Pride has featured, adjacent journalists, and all who pride themselves on being social justice advocates. The silence is deafening."
Read the full statement from Crowley's legal team below.
Mr. Crowley denies any and all wrong doing, including but not limited to, any allegations that he sexually harassed anyone, including the individual artists and representatives who have now jumped on the Twitter bandwagon of embellishment and/or outright false statements.
Mr. Crowley has worked tirelessly for many years promoting new gay artists, so much so that Billboard created a new and special position for him, focusing on the "Pride" market, a position that he thrived in.
Although quite talented professionally, Mr. Crowley is meek and quite shy socially. After engaging in some consensual, silly and innocuous social banter on private messengering features of Instagram and Twitter, with no overt or actual comments about sex. Up until a few days ago, never once did any artist or representative state to Crowley or anyone else that anything that Crowley has said was offensive. In fact, the artists' comments in the messages are very similar to Crowleys. Now, the artists and their representatives, lead by Nik Thakkar and Nate Kisos, solely for the purposes of self promotion, have engaged in a defamatory campaign to destroy Mr. Crowley and his career, making repeated, defamatory and in some instances absurd statements on Twitter about Mr. Crowley. If you examine the partial messages carefully, there is nothing offensive in them and, more importantly, there is absolutely no indication that anyone was offended or that Crowley ever sought anything in exchange for publicity. In fact, the silly messages Thakkar posted took place after Billboard had already written a piece on Thakkar, that Crowley approved and that went live the next day. Therefore, Thakkar has no credibility on his claim of quid pro quo harassment; it is a self-promoting fantasy of his, one that now leads to litigation.
You can say anything on Twitter these days and instantly it somehow becomes "truth". When does #metoo go too far? Mr. Crowley will now not back down and will be filing a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference with the right to contract against Thakkar, Kiso and others. These artists have attractive, edgy, extremely aggressive and overtly sexual presences in social media. In fact, one of the artist features a picture of himself inhaling a sex drug as part of his self promotion. How any of these artists could have been offended by anything Mr. Crowley did or said is beyond our understanding. And, in fact, no artist ever did say anything until this latest Twitter bandwagon began, a march of talking heads who think they can say just about anything they want on Twitter and somehow get away with it.
To make matters worse, and sadly, Billboard decided to abruptly end Crowley's employment solely based on an investigation into Thakkar's Tweets that lasted less than 24 hours. Even more tragic is that Billboard treated Mr. Crowley, a gay man, in an entirely different manner than other senior male straight employees of Billboard who were accused by female employees of specific acts of sexual harassment; these woman [sic] complained in real time to Billboard's HR department about specific acts of actual conduct that offended them. And, after an investigation, these straight Billboard employees were allowed to keep their jobs. This is homophobia in the workplace in its highest and most sinister form. Billboard continues to defame Mr. Crowley by making outrageous and unsupported statements in the press. Billboard will shortly be served with a lawsuit for, among other things, discrimination based on sexual orientation.