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


The Ravinia Festival has cut all ties with famed conductor James Levine amid allegations of sexual misconduct that prompted the Metropolitan Opera to suspend him.

The Metropolitan Opera said Saturday it would open an investigation into the man's claims. He reported the allegations to the police department in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October 2016.

In his account to the Lake Forest Police Department, the accuser made explicit charges against Levine.

- Ashok Pai, living near the Ravinia Festival in IL where Levine was music director from 1973 to 1993, who reported to the Lake Forest, Ill., Police Department past year that he was sexually abused by the conductor starting in 1986, when he was 16. The first report of the allegations, in the New York Post, was published not long after the performance.

Those quick actions, however, came more than a year after police in IL first reached out to the Met. Mr. Gelb said Mr. Levine had denied the accusation, and the Met had chose to await the outcome of the police investigation before taking action. "At the time, Mr. Levine said that the charges were completely false, and we relied upon the further investigation of the police".

"Scurrilous rumors have been circulating for some months and have often been accompanied by other charges which we know for a fact are untrue", according to Bliss, who died in 1991. The opera company hired an outside law firm to conduct a formal investigation.

An email to Levine's manager seeking comment on the accusations was not immediately returned.

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. The position was created for him.

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.

"Levine's tenure with the BSO, the Boston Symphony Orchestra management was never approached by anyone in connection with inappropriate behavior by James Levine", the statement said.

The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual abuse without their consent.

In an interview in The Times in 1998, Levine declined to respond to the speculation.

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

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 began his prodigious musical career in his hometown, making a solo debut during a youth concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra when he was 10.

Levine himself addressed the rumors in The New York Times in 1987, recalling an old story that he had been arrested "in Pittsburgh or Hawaii or Dallas". He holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. 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".