The #MeToo movement that’s swept across Hollywood and through the halls of Congress has spread to commercial radio. John DeBella, a Philadelphia morning radio fixture since the early 1980s, has been accused of repeatedly sexually harassing and groping a former morning show co-worker at classic rock WMGK Philadelphia (102.9).
Also named in the suit from Jennifer Neill, who worked with DeBella from 2002-2016, is WMGK owner Beasley Media Group.
In a federal civil-rights complaint, Neill claims DeBella repeatedly subjected her to “to unwanted touching and vulgar sexual remarks, including multiple requests for oral sex,” according to the suit as reported by PhillyVoice.
The 57-page complaint contains around 30 alleged incidents of unwanted sexual advancements by Neill, starting during her time as a traffic reporter on “The John DeBella Show” and continuing during a four-year stretch as his sidekick from 2010 to 2016, when she used the air-name Jen Posner.
The suit contains lurid details of the alleged incidents, including claims that DeBella rubbed his genital area against her multiple times, made repeated requests for oral sex and grabbed her breasts on several occasions, as reported by PhillyVoice.
A human resources director allegedly observed DeBella pressing his genitals against Neill. “The woman allegedly threw up her hands and said ‘I don't see anything’ before walking away,” PhillyVoice reports.
In response to a request by Inside Radio for comment, a Beasley spokesperson issued the following statement: “Beasley prides itself on being an equal opportunity employer and takes such allegations very seriously. However, at this time, we are not offering specific comment on the matter.” Beasley acquired WMGK on Nov. 1, 2016, when it closed its $240 million purchase of Greater Media.
After filing complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September 2016, station management allegedly told Neill she could keep working with DeBella or take a leave of absence. Neill returned to work for one day before taking a leave. Management conducted a six-week investigation, per the lawsuit, where DeBella dismissed his actions as “jokes” and “mutual.”
Neill’s suit claims she was never informed of any action taken against the veteran morning man and that she was ordered to return to work with DeBella or resign. She later was reassigned as a traffic reporter, which she called a “substantial demotion.” After returning to work in early November 2016, Neill gave notice that she would leave the station on Jan. 6, 2017.
Also listed as defendants are iHeartMedia and its Total Traffic And Weather Networks, for whom Neill apparently worked when she began contributing traffic reports to DeBella’s show.