National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard investigated for alleged sexual misconduct, report says

Dylan Howard, the top editor for National Enquirer and US Weekly, was investigated in 2012 after a string of accusations that he sexually harassed women at work, making explicit comments about female co-workers and forcing employees to watch porn in the office, according to a report out Tuesday.

The investigation into Howard was launched after two female employees complained of his behavior while he managed the Los Angeles-based office, The Associated Press reported.

Howard is currently the chief content officer of American Media Inc.

In this Dec. 4, 2017, photo, 4 New York Plaza, where American Media Inc., has its headquarters in New York City. 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. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

In this Dec. 4, 2017, photo, 4 New York Plaza, where American Media Inc., has its headquarters in New York City.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"American Media Inc. takes any claims of workplace harassment very seriously," the company said in a statement provided to Fox News. "After a thorough review by a third party investigator, American Media stands by the findings of that investigation. We welcomed Mr. Howard back to AMI in 2012, and since that time he has continued to have the respect of his peers and colleagues, and has been promoted to his current position as Chief Content Officer. In the wake of these baseless allegations, he has the full support of AMI and its executives."

The Associated Press interviewed 12 women with knowledge of the situation. Ten of the women remained anonymous because of nondisclosure agreements, which were reportedly a common practice upon leaving the company.

Maxine “Max” Page told the AP that she reported Howard’s behavior on behalf of two other women in the office.

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According to Page and six other ex-employees, Howard told colleagues in the newsroom he wanted to create a Facebook account on behalf of a woman’s vagina, commented on her sex life and forced her and other women at work either to watch or to listen to graphic recordings of sex involving celebrities despite there being no professional rationale for doing so.

Howard also reportedly claimed in a meeting that the same woman had had sex with one of her sources, which he allegedly praised saying she needed to “do what you need” to get a story.

The woman at the center of the allegation confirmed the incident, and others, to the AP but did not want to be identified.

Page and others also claimed that Howard talked about his own sexual encounters, including descriptions of his partners’ physical attributes. He also reportedly nicknamed himself after a phallic sex toy, one person said.

Another former employee, Liz Crokin, claimed Howard harassed her, including once when he asked whether she was “going to be walking the streets tonight” because she was wearing heels at work.

It was not clear whether Howard faced any discipline over the accusations. The AP reported it was not aware of any sexual harassment allegations involving Howard since he was rehired.

Page, Crokin and other employees told the AP that they were laid off by American Media Inc. during company downsizing. Others said they left by choice.

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In a brief phone interview with the AP, Howard characterized the ex-employees' claims as "baseless."

The company’s lawyer, Cam Stracher, told the AP that the firm had hired an outside team to investigate the claims but it was ultimately decided that the behavior didn’t warrant firing Howard.

"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.

The investigators also confirmed that they’d filed the report.

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.

Stracher said Howard was “cautioned when he returned that” the behavior described “as horsing around was not appropriate,” he said.

Fox News' Leora Arnowitz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.