A former Sony Music Australia vice president fired for sexual harassment and bullying claims he was a “scapegoat” for toxic behavior in the company and says he does not remember alleged incidents of inappropriate touch because it is possible he was full at that time.
Tony Glover, a 17-year-old Sony veteran, was the first to roll when allegations of sexual misconduct, abuse of power and bullying in the company were posted on social media.
He was fired just months before Sony’s longtime CEO Denis Handlin was spectacularly banished in June.
“I think the mindset was, ‘the heat is coming, we need to do something about this. What’s the best way to deal with it? Let’s take a CEO out,'” he told Four Corners.
“Nothing to see here, move on.”
In April, Sony Music Australia fired Mr Glover following an independent investigation into complaints he had bullied and sexually harassed female staff. Glover said he was told five women were being interviewed.
Despite initially denying their allegations, Glover said he does not actually remember the alleged incidents of inappropriate touch because it is possible he was drunk at the time.
“There was a drinking culture at Sony Music,” he said.
“But I never thought of myself as someone who would touch inappropriately.
“If that was the case and someone feels like it happened to them, I certainly apologize unreservedly for making someone feel uncomfortable at any time.”
When he was pressured into what he apologized for, Glover told the Four Corners, “If they felt uncomfortable around me, I apologize for that.”
In an interview with Four Corners, Mr Glover denied allegations from the program that some young female employees avoided him for parties and work functions because he was known to be a “compulsive groper”.
“It shocks me,” he said.
“I just do not think I am that person.
“I have to be careful what I say because I’m not going to win here, but there are obviously a few people who want to get things off my chest. And maybe I’m a safety injury along the way.”
Glover claimed he was never reprimanded for complaints of sexual harassment or bullying until earlier this year when Sony Music Australia served him a document containing several allegations of misconduct.
He was then fired by CEO Denis Handlin.
“I think the result of this investigation was probably known before it even took place.”
Four Corners has spoken to more than 100 current and former Sony employees as part of an investigation into decades of systemic bullying, discrimination and misconduct in the company under Mr Handlin, including how the company’s global headquarters knew about the alleged abuse but failed to protect its Australian staff for almost 40 years.
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Glover said he was “thrown under the bus” to divert attention from the company as the music industry faced an inventory of sexual assaults.
“There were certain social media that brought the heat.”
“I think someone had to pay for it. And it was me who covered it in the neck.”
In November 2020, an Instagram page called Beneath the Glass Ceiling appeared and began posting anonymous allegations of sexual assault, abuse of power and bullying on major record companies.
Companies were not named, but it was clear to former employees that many of the anonymous posts were about Sony Music.
Independent artist Deena Lynch, who appears as Jaguar Jonze, was one of the first women to speak publicly on social media about her experience of sexual assault in the music industry.
“I wanted people to know they were not alone and I think I just wanted to burn the fire that was already starting to burn,” she said.
“It just took a little thread to clear it all up in the end.
“In Sony Music Australia, there was also a culture of hiding things … rather than trying to attack the problem.”
‘I was sexually harassed … I have had friends sexually assaulted’
Tamara Georgopoulos worked at Sony Music between 2011 and 2015, including as Artists & Repertoire (A&R) Coordinator.
She said she and other young female employees were sexually harassed by older male superiors at work parties and events.
“Leaders would get very, very drunk, to the point of slurring their speech, grabbing you, pulling you in for hugs, touching your body,” she said.
“Sometimes it felt like we were just there as props … to be robbed and not taken seriously in our careers.
“I was sexually harassed while working at Sony.
“Things that have happened to me that I normalized and thought were ok, like a director grabbing my chest at a concert.
“I’ve had friends sexually assaulted. It’s just the norm.”
Four Corners may reveal that Handlin allowed two alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct to remain in the company despite formal complaints about them.
In a 2016 incident, a female employee claimed that during a work event at the Sony office, a naked male manager confronted her in a bathroom and sexually assaulted her.
The woman reported it directly to Mr Handlin and HR.
But despite an internal investigation confirming that part of the conduct had taken place and was considered completely unacceptable to the company, the alleged perpetrator continued in a leading role at Sony Music Australia for several years.
The female employee left the company with an $ 80,000 payout and a non-disclosure agreement.
“Everyone in the music business knows about Sony Music,” Georgopoulos said.
“It’s common knowledge what kind of culture they promote and cultivate, and everyone has just swept it under the rug.”
Ms Georgopoulos says attractive, younger female employees were often invited exclusively to party with senior male executives – including visiting executives from Sony Music New York.
“I do not think they can be over in the United States and pretend that they did not know this was happening. The American leaders would often be at these events with alcohol, with young girls, very drunk,” she said.
“So they are fully aware and they are responsible. They were negligent and they let this happen and they let this happen for decades.”
Mrs Georgopoulos gave up her career at Sony.
“I went in as the most bubbly, most excited young person to work there, and I came out of myself, and I’ve been in counseling for years,” she said.
“I’m still so mad at myself for staying as long as I did and for enduring it as long as I did.
“I feel like everyone has a responsibility to talk when they can about it, so it stops happening. Because when I found out that everyone in the industry knew this and still let young women work in this company and in this environment, how heartbreaking. “
Sony Music refused to ask anyone to be interviewed by Four Corners, but said in the statement that it takes “all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behavior very seriously and investigates them vigorously … Only recently did claims emerge, and we’re investigating them quickly. “
In a statement to the Four Corners, Mr. Handlin: “I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner. At any time I was made aware of this type of behavior, I took steps to ensure that it was stopped and not” it does not happen again . “
“Over the years, this has included seeing people at all levels leave the company.
“With questions of sexual misconduct, I always took immediate action.
“This included ordering independent inquiries through external advisors and lawyers and advising.”