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New York's Metropolitan Opera suspends conductor James Levine after sex abuse accusations

05 December 2017, 07:54 | Myron Mathis

New York's Metropolitan Opera suspends conductor James Levine after sex abuse accusations

Ravinia Music Festival Cuts Ties With Conductor James Levine

Levine already had stepped down as the Met's music director back in 2016 because of health problems. The New York Post story was published shortly after he finished conducting the last of four performances of Verdi's "Requiem". As music director emeritus, Levine was still conducting and had been scheduled to lead upcoming productions, including a planned New Year's Eve gala featuring Puccini's "Tosca".

The Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, said he briefed leaders on the opera company's board about the investigation and also spoke to Levine, who denied the allegations.

"This first came to the Met's attention when the IL police investigation was opened in October 2016", the Met said in a statement.

Details of the police report were first reported Saturday on the website of the New York Post. And Ashok Pai, who grew up in IL near the Ravinia Festival, where Mr. Levine was music director, said that he was sexually abused by Mr. Levine starting in the summer of 1986, when Mr. Pai was 16 - an accusation he made previous year in a report to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL.

Possibly complicating the decision for the Met previous year on whether to act against Levine was the fact that it had - for decades - been asked by reporters about persistent, unproven stories about his sexual habits and had always written them off as the product of an overactive rumor mill.

Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after police in IL first reached out to the Met.

The New York Times reported Sunday that three more men said they had been sexually abused by Levine in a time period that encompassed the 1960s through the 1980s.

He told the Times that the scars of the abuse lasted for years, wounds Bullough says can heal over time, especially by sharing stories of assault with those you trust and breaking through the shame that normally surrounds such admissions.

The opera said after the report Sunday that it was suspending its relationship with Levine.

"I do not believe that the existence of homosexuals within management, or for that matter on our Board, can be considered a cause for dismissal", he said. Levine graduated from the Juilliard School in NY, where he studied conducting.

Levine, 74, served as BSO music director from 2004 to 2011, and was a major presence at Tanglewood for portions of five summers - 2005 through 2009. He called them "such nonsense". He is accused by three men of having molested them decades ago, starting when they were teenagers - two of them studying at the Meadow Brook School of Music in Oakland, Mich., and one at the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago.

As of Monday, the Lenox police department had not received any complaints nor has it been asked to launch any investigation of Levine, said Stephen O'Brien, the town's police chief.

In response to the Metropolitan Opera's decision to cut Levine loose from all scheduled conducting engagements there, the BSO statement stressed that prior to his appointment as music director announced in 2004, succeeding Seiji Ozawa, the orchestra "adhered to a due diligence process".

As of Monday afternoon, there had been no comment from Levine or his representatives. Brown was 17 at the Meadow Brook School of Music in MI.

"I would always say, be out with it because in this era of social media and exposure that the internet offers, the truth will come out", he said.

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