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Metropolitan Opera fires music director James Levine for sexual harassment allegations

14 March 2018, 06:24 | Lucy Hill

Metropolitan Opera Fires Conductor James Levine for 'Sexually Abusive and Harassing Conduct'

Metropolitan Opera fires James Levine after finding 'credible evidence' of sexual abuse

The Metropolitan Opera said it fired music director emeritus James Levine on Monday after three month investigation found "credible evidence" that he "engaged in sexually abusive" conduct toward artists.

"The investigation uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met", the opera house said in a statement, adding that it has "terminated its relationship" with the conductor. In light of the findings, the Met concludes that it would be inappropriate and impossible for Mr. Levine to continue to work at the Met. That sparked a massive investigation by the Met, and led to Levine's ultimate dismissal. The statement said rumors that opera's board of directors were involved in a cover-up were "completely unsubstantiated".

Mr Levine, who denies the allegations, was suspended in December when they were made public.

The investigation, lasting more than three months, included interviews with more than 70 people and was launched by the Opera after complaints against Levine made late previous year.

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The man, who is now 48 and whose name has not been revealed, said the abuse continued for years and drove him to the brink of suicide. Levine previously said in a statement: "As anyone who truly knows me will attest, I have not lived my life as an oppressor or an aggressor". Additional reports soon followed from Chris Brown and James Lestock, leading to Levine's suspension.

A leadership transition was already underway at the Met, following Levine's retirement as music director in 2016.

The allegations detailed in the NYT included assertions that Levine engaged in sexual activity with teenage boy musicians in ensembles he conducted, and go as far back as 1968, when he was a member of the faculty at the Meadow Brook School of Music in MI. After The Associated Press reported sexual assault allegations against him, the Swiss conductor resigned as artistic director and principal conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and engagements were cancelled at numerous orchestras. Three decades later - after, Pai said, therapy had helped him realize how destructive those encounters had been - he detailed his accusations in the fall of 2016 to the Lake Forest Police Department in IL.

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